As we move through spring and head towards summer, and swimming pools and outdoor lakes begin to open, it is important to recognise some injuries that may creep up on us from not having been in the water for over a year.
It has been a tough year for all, where some have been more active, and other not so. Swimming is a discipline which challenges the body in a way that running or cycling doesn't, from both a strength and cardiovascular perspective. Injuries can occur due to a number of reasons, from poor stroke technique to inadequate muscle strength, and these would need to be addressed in the early stages to prevent soft tissue damage.
The first injury to be on the look out for is 'swimmer's shoulder' which can affect the rotator cuff muscle groups or biceps tendon. The repetitive motion of swimming can lead to inflammation of the tendons that surround the shoulder girdle, and can take weeks to recover. It is important to get the mobility back through your shoulders as well as challenging the muscles that provide support.
'Swimmer's knee' is common in those that swim breast-stroke, which can stress the inside of the knee. A ligament running along the inside of the knee can become inflamed, potentially leading to weeks or months out of the water. Technique and conditioning of the muscles that surround the hip and knee joint is important with this injury.
Neck and back pain is another area which can become injured if breathing technique is poor, or neck, back and hip mobility has reduced ranges of movement. Go back to the basics, get the floats out and focus on upper and lower body technique.
Overall, prevention is better than cure when it comes to a return to activities. Start with improving your mobility and flexibility, and then incorporate strength exercises to help stabilise your hip and shoulder girdles. Be sure to build up your training gradually, and allow enough time for rest and recuperation.