Caretaking for Loved Ones: A Health and Medical Blog

How Your Child Can Enjoy Swimming and Avoid Injury

If your child wants to take up swimming as a sport, you may be surprised to find that swimmers commonly experience back and shoulder injuries. Although regarded as a low impact sport the rigors of swimming training place a heavy demand on these areas of the body.

Fortunately there are some straight forward techniques and strategies that can be used to avoid injury and allow all swimmers to fully enjoy their sport. Follow this easy guide to find out about some of the potential injuries and ways your child can avoid them.

Understand Common Swimming Injuries

The most frequent sports injury among swimmers is the aptly named Swimmer's Shoulder. This is a painful overuse injury that results from repeated shoulder trauma rather than one specific incident. The pain may be local and remain sore and inflamed near the shoulder joint or the discomfort  may spread down the arm or up the neck.

A number of factors can contribute to this painful condition but most often it results from incorrect technique and incorrect training. In freestyle swimming, the style error of entering the water thumb first or crossing the hand over the mid-line of the body contributes to shoulder problems. Over-training or a sudden increase in training intensity places extra strain on the muscles and tendons and contributes to swimmer's shoulder. Swim paddles that are used to correct poor stroking techniques should not be over-used as they may create unbalanced flexibility in muscle development.

If you suspect that this is the problem it is important to seek the advice of a health professional who is experienced in sport injuries promptly. If the condition is not treated swiftly it can advance into a more serious shoulder condition and may progress to a rotator cuff impingement or tear, tendonitis or ligament damage.

Lower back swimming injuries are likewise often the result of incorrect technique. Excessive stretching, twisting, arching and lifting at the end of range movements, for example with dolphin kicks, can possibly tear connective tissue that surrounds the joints on each side of the spine. A strain or tear to a lower back muscle will cause a sharp type of pain and likely swelling or bruising over the area of the muscle damage.

Treat the Pain Quickly

Rest is essential. Ease back on training and stop immediately if your child is in pain. You can apply ice for a few minutes every hour but not directly to the skin. Use a wet towel to wrap the ice. Arrange to see a health professional who can expertly diagnose the injury.

It is of vital important to discover the initial cause of the injury and determine what can be done to prevent it from re-occurring. It may be through modifying a stroke technique or changing the training program.

An experienced specialist will be able to identify the root of the problem and design a remedial program. Following the appointment, the treatment is usually manual therapy which may involve joint manipulation and mobilisation, sports massage or ultrasound to aid the recovery process.. Rest, ice, compression and elevation are the also normal therapies.

Avoid Future Swimming Injuries

The swimming coach is your best advisor and can ensure that the swimmer is using the correct techniques to avoid sports injuries. It is important to maintain good communication and find out if the training program is suitable for your child. Ascertain if the training will:

  • lessen repetitive strokes that cause overuse injury
  • include some strengthening and cross-training exercises within the early sessions
  • give strong emphasis to correct stoke technique
  • use plenty of recovery and rest routines

Swimming injuries can be avoided by using some of these strategies to allow your child a trouble-free swimming future.