Summertime Leads To Common Athletic Injury

Swimmers Suffer Neck, Back, Shoulder Problems

WESTON, Fla. - Swimming is referred to as a low-impact form of exercise, but that doesn't mean it's without risk of injury.

"There are definitely more swimming related injuries we see in the summer time," said Dr. David Westerdahl, a sports medicine specialist with the orthopedic department at Cleveland Clinic Florida.

Westerdahl said one such injury is commonly referred to as swimmer's shoulder.

"This is typically a problem for competitive athletes, but it can even affect recreational swimmers," he said.

Westerdahl explained how the injury occurs.

"The shoulder's a ball and socket joint and the rotator cuff muscles help keep the ball in the socket, sort of like a glove around the shoulder. over time, with swimming, those muscles undergo a fair amount of stress due to the repetitive movement of strokes like freestyle and butterfly," he said.

Westerdahl also said the joint tends to become more lax over time, putting extra stress on the muscle to keep the ball in the socket.

"The more swimming you do, the longer you've been at it, the risk of injury increases," he said.

If the injury is mild, it can be rectified with proper warm up and rehabilitation. A move severe injury, such as a tear, may require surgery.

"To reduce that risk, I advise avid swimmers to take a day or two off and to avoid activities that mimic the motion of swimming, such as canoeing and kayaking," he said.

Westerdahl said swimmers should also have an expert check their form to be sure they're using the proper stroke, and not adding stress to their neck and upper back.

"Some swimmers lift their head out of the water, along with turning it to breath, and that can cause additional injury over time," he said.

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