Swimming is one of the few activities that use all the major muscles in the body. As a cardiovascular activity that engages often-unused muscles; it also displaces up to 95% of our body weight and is therefore an excellent activity for people who are overweight or pregnant and who wish to exercise.

Swimming is one of the safest exercises, and is recommended:

However swimming is not something that comes naturally to humans and we are the only mammals that have to learn how to swim. Due to a lack of teaching and practice, many of us cannot swim to the calibre we desire and bad technique can often lead to specific overuse injuries.

Swimming Injuries

Swimming is primarily a shoulder movement and this function demands the coordination of many muscle groups.

Swimmers Shoulder

Swimmers shoulder is an overuse injury involving the supraspinatus tendon, which is one of the rotator cuff muscles, or the biceps tendon. Technical flaws in swimming stroke can lead to an overextension of the supraspinatus tendon, leading to joint instability and loss of blood supply or "wringing out" of the tendon during the out-of the water recovery and pull phase.

Dropping the elbow during these phases can cause irritation of the rotator cuff muscles. Thus a specific swimming technique is recommended to avoid irritation without losing speed:

If your shoulder is in an inflamed state it is wise to avoid:

However an imbalance in shoulder flexibility can also antagonise shoulder pain. Thus it is advised to stretch:

Build up certain shoulder stabilisers is also advised to avoid shoulder injury in swimmers:

Elbow Injuries

The high elbow position recommended to avoid shoulder injury can also avoid lateral epicondylitis or "tennis elbow" among swimmers. The tendons of the elbow at the lateral epicondyle, become inflamed, due to repetitive strain.

Foot and ankle injuries

This type of injury is not very common however tendonitis of the ankle joint can occur and ankle sprains are also a factor from incorrect flip-turn technique.

Back Injuries

Often the source of lower back pain in swimmers can be a result of an underlying back pathology. Mechanical low back stress can also occur from flip-turns and poor body position in the water.

Treatment should include avoiding flip turns, re-examination of technique, physical therapy and...