Are you training swimmers? Here are the top three things you need to know to train them safely and avoid imbalances.
- Swimmers are at risk for developing shoulder pain.
- Swimmers are at risk for developing upper crossed syndrome also known as “swimmer’s posture”.
- There is a high correlation between swimmer’s posture and shoulder pain.
- Tune in next month to discover the fourth must-know tip for training swimmers!
Shoulder Pain Risk
When training athletes, always consider what injuries the athlete is at risk for. For swimmers, shoulder pain is the most common injury.
- 50% of swimmers at the college or master level have shoulder pain for at least 3 weeks a year.
- 10% of competitive youth athletes develop shoulder pain.
- 26% of national swimmers have shoulder pain.
Musculoskeletal Imbalances in Swimmers
Swimmers who do not get enough specialized dryland training have a tendency to develop swimmer’s posture. Swimmer’s posture is characterized by forward head position, increased shoulder kyphosis, shoulders that are both rounded forwards and elevated. Vladimar Janda called this Upper Crossed Syndrome. Upper Crossed Syndrome decreases the subacromial space in the shoulder, increasing the risk of a rotator cuff impingement.
Swimmer’s Posture aka Upper Crossed Syndrome
Upper Crossed Syndrome is characterized by:
- Muscles that are tight (hypertonic) and need to be stretched
- Muscles that are weak (hypotonic) and need to be strengthened.
Muscles needing “corrective strengthening”:
- Neck flexors
- Middle and low traps
- Serratus anterior
Muscles needing “corrective stretching”:
- Neck muscles (suboccipitals, scalenes, levator scapula, sternocleidomastoid, upper traps)
- Pec major and pec minor
In addition to poor posture, research shows swimmers also have range of motion imbalances in the shoulder. Swimmers typically have:
- Decreased shoulder internal rotation
- Decreased shoulder horizontal adduction
- Excessive external shoulder rotation.
- Decreased shoulder flexion as a result of increased kyphosis and elevated scapula.
- The strength coach should be screening both swimmers posture and evaluating shoulder range of motion as an injury prevention method.
Part two of this series will cover how to choose exercises to correct and prevent shoulder pain in swimmers.
Jason Ivesdal is the founder and CEO of Higher Power Training. He started Higher Power Training in 2004 and launched the current facility in 2008. Prior to founding HPT, Jason Ivesdal was the director of training at Flagship Athletic Club where he oversaw 20 trainers.
Higher Power Training is a 15,000 square foot facility in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. HPT offers sports performance training, personal training, nutrition coaching, group exercise classes and relaxation services.
Jason’s currently trains clients and athletes, coaches nutrition and detox, and is directs day-to-day operations and the training of HPT’s staff of personal trainers. Jason consults with other coaches and trainers on HPT’s Metabolic Detoxification and Accelerated Performance Nutrition program, and shares his knowledge of strength and nutrition, through local lectures and classes.
B.S Corporate Community Fitness, Minor Nutrition
NSCA-CSCS, USAW L1 Sports Performance Coach