Too strenuous swimming can affect both the upper and lower body. The most common upper body injury is to the rotator cuff in the shoulder. The rotator cuff is made up of several connected muscles and tendons that can weaken and tear with the continuous lifting of the arm as you perform a swimming stroke. Bicep tendonitis is another injury that can occur in the upper arm resulting in a painful inflammation.
The knee is the most frequently injured joint in the lower body. Much like Tennis or Golfer's Elbow, there is also what's known as "Breaststroker's Knee," which is unique to the sport of swimming. The repetitive motion of kicking the leg at a wide, yet controlled, angle can take its toll on the joint and surrounding tissues. Hip and lower back pain can also arise from the non-strop kicking.
To prevent these and other swimming injuries, try the following:
- Vary and/or alternate the strokes during your workout.
- Warm up for a few minutes out of the water before diving in.
- Include core-strengthening exercises to better support all the exertion of your upper and lower extremities needed to swim.
- Stop and take a break when you experience fatigue.