When starting any new activity, your muscles and joints are worked in ways that they aren’t necessarily accustomed to. Swimming is a sport that involves repetitive movements, and over time swimmers may develop overuse injuries, specifically in the shoulders. Here are our top 5 tips for reducing the risk of swimming injuries.
5 Steps to Reducing Risk of Swimming Injuries
1. Gradual progression is key
When starting your new exercise journey, you’re most likely motivated to get to your goal as quickly as possible. One of the biggest mistakes that novices make is doing too much too soon, and this is a recipe for developing an overuse injury. A general rule to follow is to increase your total distance by no more than 10% per week.
2. Warm up before each session
Start each exercise session with a warm up of at least 5 minutes. A warm up involves performing low-intensity activities that mimic the movement of your sport or activity. For swimming, you can include dynamic stretches of the upper body, such as swinging the arms forward and backward, and side to side. This helps to warm up the muscles and improve blood flow to the areas that will be working during your session.
3. Add regular strength training to your routine
By including specific strength exercises into your weekly routine, you can help to counterbalance the muscles that are worked during your sessions, as well as improving your posture and biomechanics. Strength training also helps to maintain bone density, which can be a concern for athletes only involved with non-weight bearing sports such as swimming.
4. Daily stretching & mobility
Similarly to strength training, flexibility is key to keeping your muscles long and strong. Stretching tight muscles for 30 seconds daily will help to reduce your risk of injuries in the long-term. Static stretches (those that are held in position), should be done after your activity, or after a warm up.
5. Don’t forget about recovery
Probably the most overlooked of all the risk-reduction strategies is getting adequate rest. Provide enough time between your training sessions for your body to recover, especially if the session was longer or harder that what you are used to. Another vital aspect of recovery is getting enough good quality sleep. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours per night, or more after a high-load training session or event.
By following these 5 steps, you’ll be well on your way to reaching your swimming goal as safely as possible. Enjoy the journey!