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Posted 02/05/2023 in Category 1

Understanding Common Swimming Injuries

Understanding Common Swimming Injuries

Swimming is generally considered a low-impact sport, meaning it has a lower risk of injury compared to other high-impact activities. However, injuries can still occur while swimming. Here we explore some common injuries in swimming, and some causes and solutions. These are some ways swimming can cause injuries:

  • Overuse injuries: Swimmers can develop overuse injuries, such as shoulder impingement syndrome or swimmer's shoulder, due to the repetitive overhead motion of the arms during swimming.
  • Muscle strains and pulls: Swimmers may experience muscle strains or pulls, especially in the groin or hamstring muscles, from sudden movements or overexertion.
  • Drowning: While not an injury per se, drowning is a serious risk associated with swimming. Swimmers who are fatigued, inexperienced, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs are at a higher risk of drowning.
  • Slip and fall injuries: Swimmers can slip on wet surfaces around the pool and suffer injuries such as sprains, fractures, or head injuries.
  • Allergic reactions: Some swimmers may experience allergic reactions to pool chemicals, such as chlorine, which can cause skin irritation, eye irritation, or respiratory problems.
  • Cramps: Swimmers may experience cramps in their muscles, especially in the legs or feet, due to dehydration, poor nutrition, or overexertion.
  • Hypothermia: Swimmers who swim in cold water for extended periods of time can develop hypothermia, which is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it.

It's important to take precautions to prevent these types of injuries, such as warming up properly, using proper technique, staying hydrated, and wearing appropriate safety gear. If you experience pain or discomfort while swimming, it's important to stop and seek medical attention if necessary.

How Can Swimmers Prevent Injuries Occurring? 

Swimmers can take a number of steps to help prevent injuries from occurring:

  • Warm up properly: Before swimming, it's important to warm up properly with some light exercises and stretching. This can help prepare the muscles and joints for the activity and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Use proper technique: Swimmers should focus on using proper stroke technique when swimming to reduce the risk of overuse injuries. It's important to work with a coach or trainer to ensure that you are using the correct technique.
  • Stay hydrated: Swimmers should drink plenty of water before, during, and after swimming to stay hydrated. Dehydration can increase the risk of muscle cramps and other injuries.
  • Wear appropriate gear: Swimmers should wear appropriate gear, such as goggles and swim caps, to help protect their eyes and hair. Swimmers who are training in open water should wear a wetsuit and other appropriate gear for the conditions.
  • Take breaks: Swimmers should take regular breaks during long swim sessions to help prevent overuse injuries and fatigue.
  • Avoid swimming alone: Swimmers should always swim with a partner or in a supervised area to reduce the risk of drowning and other injuries.
  • Build strength and flexibility: Swimmers can help prevent injuries by building strength and flexibility through strength training and stretching exercises.
  • Get regular check-ups: It's important for swimmers to get regular check-ups from their healthcare provider to help identify any underlying health issues that could increase their risk of injury.

By taking these steps, swimmers can reduce their risk of injury and stay safe while enjoying the benefits of swimming.

Examples of Injuries Experienced by Swimmers

While swimming is a low-risk sport many famous swimmers have suffered from injuries over the years. Here are a few examples:

  • Michael Phelps: The most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, has dealt with a number of injuries throughout his career, including shoulder and back injuries. In 2015, he had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
  • Missy Franklin: Four-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin has struggled with shoulder injuries throughout her career. In 2017, she underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in her left shoulder.
  • Ryan Lochte: Twelve-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte has dealt with a number of injuries over the years, including a torn MCL in his knee and a pulled groin muscle.
  • Natalie Coughlin: Twelve-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin has dealt with a number of injuries over the course of her career, including a herniated disc in her back and shoulder problems.
  • Ian Thorpe: Five-time Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe suffered from a serious shoulder injury in 2006 that required surgery and kept him out of competition for over a year.

These are just a few examples of the many famous swimmers who have had to overcome injuries throughout their careers. Even the most elite athletes can be vulnerable to injuries, which is why it's important for all swimmers to take steps to prevent injuries and seek treatment when necessary.

This is just some general advice and examples of swimming injuries. While this general information is helpful it is always best to consult a qualified sports medicine consultant to get bespoke physical preparation, and injury rehabilitation advice. If you are after a physiotherapist or sports massage therapist or chiropractor you can search for them and other sport performance specialists, including coaches, on our directory. You can search for the sport performance specialist you need by location or specialism.