Swimming can be a phenomenal form of exercise that encompasses resistance training, cardiovascular endurance, and anaerobic and aerobic activity. It is ideal for those with joint issues because your body is unloaded and assisted by the buoyancy of water. By nature, swimming is a full body exercise that also demands emphasis on breathing techniques and mindfulness.

The Role of Physical Therapy in Swimming Injuries

Sport-related injuries can occur suddenly from trauma or gradually over time. Swimming injuries are usually a result of overuse or improper technique or training. A physical therapist can help to identify whether the swimmer’s stroke technique needs improvement or if they need to alter their training regimen. Physical therapy encompasses a wide range of treatment methods including hands-on techniques, mobility and strengthening exercises, and education regarding proper body mechanics or modifications to activity and posture. A specific program is designed for each individual at the initial physical therapy evaluation and is adjusted based on how they respond to treatment.

Common Swimming Injuries Seen in Physical Therapy

The most common injuries that occur with swimmers involve their shoulders, knees, necks, or lower backs. Shoulder pain can develop as a result of the wide range of motion the arm goes through with freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly, while knee pain is seen more commonly from the rotational force required during the breaststroke kick. Positioning the body in water makes looking to the side to breathe, looking forward to the end of the lane, or simply maintaining a horizontal position, drivers of neck and lower back pain. 

What to Do After an Injury

Regardless of how an injury occurs, early intervention is key to recovery. For seasoned swimmers, seeking help from a physical therapist after the initial indication of pain can help with returning to pain-free swimming sooner. If swimming is a new activity, a physical therapist can help design a training program to gradually and safely build skill, strength, and endurance so that injuries can be largely prevented. 

No matter where you are on your swimming journey, physical therapy can be the best option for keeping you in the pool and pain-free. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing a swimming injury, contact Renew Physical Therapy about our Return To Sport therapy program.

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