Monday, January 2, 2012

Exercises that Relieve Heavy Shoulder for Swimmers

Swimming is a sport that relies heavily on your shoulders, leaving them susceptible to injury. Swimmer's shoulder is a broad term used to describe almost any pain or inflammation in the shoulder due to swimming. Typically brought on by poor technique, overuse and muscular imbalance, swimmer's shoulder can be prevented. Talk to your doctor about your pain and consult a swim coach to develop a proper training regimen which improves technique and strength to prevent injury.
Shoulder Anatomy
Your shoulder is a complex structure that is composed of three separate joints -- the glenohumeral, the acromioclavicular and sternoclavicular joints. The three main bones that form its structure and function are the collar bone, shoulder blade and upper arm bone. Cartilage within the joint cushions the bones, ligaments hold your bones in place, and tendons and a variety of muscles move your shoulder through its range of motion. Due to its complexity and plethora of components, your shoulder is easily injured.
Swim Technique
Overhead swimming strokes, like the butterfly and freestyle strokes, move your shoulder through a large range of motion. Improper technique can lead to muscle, tendon and ligament injury. In particular, your rotator cuff muscles are vulnerable to injury while performing overhead strokes. In comparison to other muscles in your shoulder, the rotator cuff muscles are small. Poor technique can lead to fatigue of the rotator cuff and a subsequent compensation by the larger shoulder muscles. As a result, your upper arm bone is pulled too far up into the shoulder socket, increasing injury risk. Keep a bend in your elbow during your pull phase and avoid crossing your hand over your body's mid-line as it enters the water.
Overuse Injury
Every time you work out your body experiences microscopic tears in its soft tissues and bones; with adequate rest, these heal and create stronger tissues. However, maintaining a longer "tear down" phase can lead to injuries. One sign of an overuse injury is a drop in performance. Consistently completing your normal workout at a slower pace can indicate you are overtraining. Muscle fatigue, soreness and pain are your body's ways of signaling an injury. Talk to your doctor and a professional coach if you experience these symptoms. Rest, cross-training and decreasing your intensity can help improve your symptoms.
Muscle Imbalances
Muscle balance is important for optimal performance and injury prevention. Stronger or tighter muscles pull more heavily on bones, creating anomalies in your postural alignment. For instance, a common postural imbalance is seen in individuals with slightly rounded shoulders -- the chest muscles are tight while the upper back and rotator cuff muscles are weak. Your posture negatively affects your shoulder's range of motion, the impact of which is compounded during physical activity. Unilateral breathing, or breathing on one side of your stroke, can also lead to muscle imbalance and shoulder injuries. Balancing your muscle strength and flexibility and breathing bilaterally can reduce injury incidence.

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