Shoulder health

slowmoslowmo Member
edited May 2012 in General Discussion
I would like to hear some feed back as to how people handle shoulder pain and long swims. I have issues with with my left rotator cuff once I get into the 6,000 plus range in single swim, any feed back would be great.


  • SharkoSharko Tomales BayGuest
    There of course rotator cuff exercises that one can do with light weights on the cable or with bands...but I think the repetition of the swimming motion will ultimately cause a problem unless there is weight work/cross training for muscle support...some seem to need it more than others...if you are having problems at 6,000 meters then I don't think Ibuprofin is the swimming partner had a scope and now uses band exercises on a regular basis...I have a theory that a little extra muscle mass in the upper body is good in two ways...supports the shoulders and the extra muscle helps generate more heat in cold water...drop the leg work in the spring as you don't want lead weights screwing up your horizontal body position....

    "I never met a shark I didn't like"

  • Sharko I agree I have to spend more time on building up the muscles surrounding the rotator cuff. I find once I get outdoors and start building my distance the problem starts to go away which may be a sign that I'm building through longer distance.
    On a seperate note I had the pleasure of swimming in from Alactraz and really look foward to heading out that way for more swim's, great trainning area in aquatic park.
  • ForeverSwimForeverSwim Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaCharter Member
    @slowmo - I agree with @sharko, as I have pretty bad shoulders; particularly the right one. If you need any exercise stretching or strengthening tips, please let me know as I have a good list of what works well!!
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited April 2012
    I'm surprised no one has mentioned stroke technique - flaws in which are a common cause of shoulder impingement. @slowmo, have you had a coach look at your stroke? If it's just your left shoulder that bothers you, it could be due to an imbalance somewhere.

    My rotator cuffs tend to get angry if I start dropping my elbows during the catch (though typically, it's just one elbow and one shoulder). Usually I can work my way through a flare-up, even in the middle of a workout, just by focusing on keeping my elbows high and rotating evenly to both sides.
  • I agree evmo I think taking for granted that I swimming right is just that, I have not had my stroke looked at since high school finding someone I trust and who happens to have a good back ground would be important.
    I will throw this out also anyone in the midwest that you know of? Thanks.
  • bobswimsbobswims Santa Barbara CACharter Member
    Some great advice by everyone. Speaking from experience I can say that poor form can only lead to trouble. I developed a suprascapular nerve impingement 15 years ago from surfing & swimming. To make a long story short (something I find very hard to do) I think my thumb first entry and long hours in the water led me down this path. I left swimming but did return a few years ago. In the process I had a second surgery and began to really work on strengthening my rotator cuff muscles. What I found during these last years was that swimming for long periods of time did not aggravate it, in fact it made it stronger. It was the hard intense sets that aggravated it. Lucky for me since Catalina it is the best it has been since the injury and can now handle very intense workouts. There is something to be said about performing 40,000 shoulder exercise repetitions in a single day.
  • The most important this is to avoid internal shoulder rotation. That is what Bob is talking about when his thumb enters first. If you have your hand in a position it rotates the ball of the socket into the joint and that can cause problems. Some people enter thumb higher than pinkie on the entry which helps relieve the problem. Internal rotation during the recovery can also cause problems. Make sure that you palm is angled towards your body (thumb higher than pinky). You should see the palm of your hand during the recovery instead of the back of your hand.
  • bobswimsbobswims Santa Barbara CACharter Member
    You should check out the Shoulder Decide App. It has creat graphics and is interactive. Knee Decide is equally good. My orthopedist's 2 favorite parts of my body.
  • Thanks guys...I had the very same issue of going thumb first and have been working away from that which should take some of the pressure off the rotator cuff. The longer sets coupled with the different entry seem to be working I can now raise my arm over my head again. Bob I will check out the web sites you mentioned...thanks for the help.
  • I'm a bit late on this. But Kelly here is the mobility king under the crossfitters. He also has a great WOD for delts and tennis elbow which works great for me to prevent injury as I do swim wrong, and by the time I get it down, it might be too late.
    Hope the link works.

    Sisu: a Finnish term meaning strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    I've been working on technique lately and experimenting with elbow position on recovery. There are two conflicting points that I have been trying to reconcile and I would appreciate opinions on this. At one point in my life I was taught to use a high elbow recovery and another point I was told that the high elbow would lead to injury because it does something to impinge something (I don't remember the exact mechanics other than I remembered that word "impinge" and so I started to use a more relaxed arm recovery.)

    On my first 10K this past summer, the one thing I really remember is that my deltoid muscles were really tired at the end of the swim. That was the only part of me that really felt tired. I started thinking about it and figured it was from having my arm extended on recovery and I was lifting the whole arm assembly for each stroke. So I thought that if I used a higher elbow recovery, maybe I would be taking advantage of leverage and lifting a slightly lighter arm each time.

    I have been playing with this higher elbow recovery and it's feeling pretty good. I don't know if this makes a difference on a long swim because I haven't been swimming distances. I was wondering if there is any solid knowledge on this subject from the people who are doing the big distances.

  • JaimieJaimie NYCMem​ber

    @curly #TeamHighElbows

  • SydneDSydneD Senior Member

    @curly I am with Jaimie on #teamhighelbows. In fact, my husband often jokes that when I'm coming to shore in a race, he knows it's either me or a teenage boy because of the bony elbows poking up, It works well for me and I rarely, if ever, have shoulder pain or deltoid issues.

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    I'm sure seeing a lot of great pictures of high elbows on this site. I think I'm convinced. I've been focusing on that in my annual stroke technique evaluation. I'm also noticing that it is helping me with my hand placement in the water. The whole thing feels a bit weird as I modify the stroke, but I think it will be an improvement. I also think I am accomplishing my goal of working as little as possible. (That may be a life goal too...) ;)

  • I am mega late to this discussion, but I just posted this on another thread and thought it might be worth mentioning here. I found out that when I rotated, especially when breathing, I was pulling completely with my shoulder instead of using my core. I started doing some serious core strength training and concentrated on rotating from my center and blamo, no shoulder pain.

  • Sarah4140Sarah4140 DenverMember

    Here is my current problem. Working up to a Tahoe width crossing, and lots of long weeks, in fact more volume than I have ever done. In past seasons I have been blessedly free of shoulder issues. But the last few weeks i have had Shoulder pain primarily on the inside of my left scap, also the left intercostals (and probably deeepr muscles) are uncomfortable too. Although oddly the longer I swim the better it feels. When I did a 10k pool swim on June 1 I felt great by the time I finished. Maybe more foam roller?? I have massage and acupuncture about every 10 days, which helps too. Thoughts appreciated!

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