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November 11, 2023
James Setton

Understanding and Managing Swimmer’s Shoulder: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Are you an avid swimmer who’s been experiencing shoulder pain or discomfort in the water? You might be dealing with a common condition known as swimmer’s shoulder. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of swimmer’s shoulder, covering everything from its symptoms and diagnosis to treatment options and strategies for prevention. We’ll also explore the best swimming strokes for those with shoulder injuries and shed light on why some swimmers experience headaches after taking a dip.


Swimmer’s shoulder, often referred to as shoulder impingement, is an issue that affects many water enthusiasts. It can not only be a source of discomfort but can also hamper your performance in the water. Let’s kick things off by getting a better understanding of this prevalent concern and why addressing it is crucial for your aquatic adventures.

Swimmer’s Shoulder Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of Swimmer’s Shoulder

If you’re unsure whether you’re dealing with swimmer’s shoulder, here are some telltale signs to watch out for:

  • Shoulder Pain: Aching or sharp pain in the shoulder is a common symptom of swimmer’s shoulder.
  • Weakness: You might notice a decrease in strength, making certain swimming movements challenging.
  • Reduced Range of Motion: Your ability to move your shoulder freely may be limited.

Diagnosing Swimmer’s Shoulder

Healthcare professionals typically rely on a combination of methods to diagnose swimmer’s shoulder, including:

  • Physical Examinations: Your doctor may perform physical tests to assess your range of motion and the location of pain.
  • Imaging Tests: X-rays, MRI scans, or ultrasounds can provide a closer look at the affected area.

Swimmer’s Shoulder Treatment Options

Once you’ve been diagnosed with swimmer’s shoulder, it’s time to explore treatment options to get you back in the swim of things.

Treatment Methods

  • Rest: Taking a break from swimming and other activities that worsen your symptoms is often the first step in the healing process.
  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapists can provide exercises to strengthen and rehabilitate your shoulder.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce pain and inflammation.

Corticosteroid Injections

In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be recommended for pain relief. These injections can provide short-term relief but are not a long-term solution.

Surgical Options

For severe cases of swimmer’s shoulder, surgical intervention may be necessary. Procedures like arthroscopy can be used to address structural issues in the shoulder. The success of surgery depends on various factors and should be discussed with your healthcare provider.

Swimmer’s Shoulder Prevention

Prevention is often the best medicine when it comes to swimmer’s shoulder. Here are some strategies and exercises to help you avoid this condition:

Tips and Exercises for Prevention

  • Warm-Up: Always start your swim with a proper warm-up to prepare your shoulder muscles.
  • Stretching: Incorporate stretching exercises to enhance flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Good Swim Stroke Technique: Maintaining proper swim stroke technique can minimize strain on your shoulders and reduce the risk of swimmer’s shoulder.

Best Swimming Strokes for Shoulder Injury

If you’re dealing with swimmer’s shoulder or want to reduce the risk of developing it, consider these swimming strokes that are gentler on the shoulders:

  • Breaststroke: The breaststroke is often recommended for individuals with shoulder injuries, as it places less stress on the shoulders.
  • Backstroke: Swimming on your back can be a good alternative, as it doesn’t involve the repetitive overhead motion of freestyle or butterfly.

Headache after Swimming: Causes and Solutions

Ever wondered why your head hurts after a swim? It’s not uncommon, and there can be various causes for this discomfort:

Common Causes of Headaches after Swimming

  • Dehydration: Insufficient hydration can lead to post-swim headaches. Make sure you’re drinking enough water before and after your swim.
  • Sinus Issues: Water entering the nasal passages during swimming can trigger sinus headaches. Using nose clips or addressing sinus problems can help.

Swimmer’s Shoulder Recovery Time

Recovery time for swimmer’s shoulder can vary depending on the severity of the condition and how well you follow your treatment plan. Your healthcare provider will provide guidance on the expected recovery timeline. Remember, patience and adherence to your treatment regimen are key to a successful recovery.

Managing Swimmer’s Shoulder

In conclusion, understanding and managing swimmer’s shoulder is essential for anyone who loves spending time in the water. We’ve covered the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, prevention strategies, and even the best swimming strokes for those with shoulder issues. Additionally, we’ve unraveled the mystery of post-swim headaches.

Prioritizing your shoulder health and seeking professional guidance when necessary will ensure you can continue enjoying the pleasures of swimming. Dive back into the water with confidence and keep making a splash!

Guest article.
The above may not coincide with the methodology and opinion of the SwimRight Academy Team.

James Setton
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