Swimming Injuries – Common Conditions and Prevention Strategies


Summer is here and that means many of our loyal patients will be looking to hit the beach and swimming pool. Swimming is a great sport which benefits the entire body – from building muscle to losing weight, increasing flexibility and endurance. It is a low-impact sport, however it’s important that you take care as overuse injuries are very common amongst swimmers. At Erko Physio we regularly treat three swimming related conditions:

  • Swimmers Shoulder
  • Breaststrokers Knee
  • Swimmers Back

In this blog post, we’ll be sharing some helpful tips to reduce your risk of injury and get the most enjoyment and benefit out of swimming.

 The 3 Most Common Swimming Injuries

Swimming injuries tend to show up in the shoulder, back and knee. They come about when swimmers overuse parts of their body, stretching and inflaming ligaments and increasing the strain placed on the lower back. Below you will find a short description of each condition.

Swimmers Shoulder – This term is used to describe various shoulder injuries, with the most common being impingement syndrome. During swimming, pressure on the rotator cuff muscles and tendons may result in compression which leads to irritation. Patients experience pain when lifting their arm. Pain in the shoulder blade may also be present. This is because the four muscles found within the rotator cuff play a critical role in centring the head of your humerus. Swimmers shoulder can be a painful condition which drastically reduces your range of movement, making it painful to extend your arm above your head or perform swimming strokes.

Swimmers Knee – This injury is normally experienced by swimmers who typically perform breastroke. This stroke requires frequent ‘frog kick’ or ‘whipping’ movements, which can cause inflammation and tearing to the medial collateral ligament (MCL) located on the inside of the knee. You may also experience knee pain if you use poor swimming technique or have weak core musculature. Typical signs you may be suffering from swimmer’s knee include pain on the inside of your knee and difficulty performing swimming strokes or whilst walking on land.

Back Pain – Swimming is often recommended for those that suffer back pain, but it can also be a cause of back pain. Strokes such as breaststroke and butterfly can interfere with the arch of the lumber or spine, potentially causing or exacerbating existing back problems. It is important that you do not exaggerate movement of your lower back whilst swimming. If you are having difficulty, you may wish to speak with your physiotherapist who can assist in developing your core musculature. Pain is usually felt in the form of spasms and muscle pain around the lower, middle or upper back.

 Preventing Injury and Physio Treatment Options

If you’re a keen swimmer, it is well worth speaking to a sports medicine specialist at Erko Physio who can work in close collaboration with you. We are highly skilled in screening and injury prevention, and our team have comprehensive knowledge in all types of swimming strokes. We can teach you methods to reduce your risk of experiencing the above overuse injuries, as well as manage existing conditions to help you get the most out of your aquatic exercise.

Contact Erko Physio Today

If you are suffering from a swimming related injury or would like to discuss your concerns with a physiotherapist, please don’t hesitate to contact Erko Physio today on 02 9557 9272 or submit an enquiry via our website. We look forward to seeing you soon for your next appointment.