By KATHERINE YOUNES, DPT Hampton PT
A great way to cool off and get some exercise this summer is to jump in a pool or lake. Swimming is a well-rounded workout with many great benefits including improving endurance, burning calories, and is a low impact workout which reduces stress and strain on our joints. However, the shoulder is the joint that tends to take most of the load due to the repetitive overhead motion swimming requires, which can cause irritation and inflammation of the rotator cuff muscles causing the tissue to rub against bone. This is known as Shoulder Impingement. This results in pain which can be experienced not only with activity but also at rest which may be confused with soreness.
Here are some symptoms to look out for:
- Shoulder stiffness
- Shoulder tenderness
- Decreased range of motion
- Pain when reaching above head
- Decreased activity tolerance
Stretching can be an effective tool to reduce the risk of injury and can be performed after your workout to ensure good mobility and recovery of the muscles used during swimming. The following stretches will focus on the lat muscles and pec muscles ,as well as improving mid back mobility to decrease excessive force on the shoulder and allow for proper alignment of the shoulder joint.
Here are a few stretches that you can try:
Doorway pec stretch
Stand in a doorway with one foot in front of the other. Place both arms on either side of the doorframe, with shoulders at 90 degrees. Keep your chest up and lean forward until comfortable stretch is felt along the front of your chest. Hold for 20 seconds and perform 3 times.
Begin on your hands and knees, slowly lower your buttocks towards your feet. And your chest toward the floor as you reach out to one the side. Hold 20 seconds and perform 3 times. Repeat reaching out to the other side.
Thread the Needle
Begin on your hands and knees. Slide one arm along the floor and lower your shoulder towards the ground until you feel a comfortable stretch along your mid back. Next bring that same arm back to center and reach up towards the ceiling looking at your hand. Perform 10 reps. Repeat on other side.
Kneeling Thoracic Extension Stretch
Begin in a kneeling position in front of a table, bench or bed and place your elbows shoulder width apart onto the surface you are using. Begin to kneel back towards your heels until comfortable stretch is felt along your mid back. Hold 15 seconds and perform 4 times. You can hold onto a pole or stick if you are having difficulty maintaining the proper position.
If you are experiencing pain and/or are limited in tolerance to swimming, Contact Hampton Physical Therapy and schedule an evaluation to see one of our physical therapists. We can help get you back in the pool! (top photo by freepik)