Aquatic Sports and Preventing Injuries

Water sports are wonderful endeavors that can be as intense or as relaxed as you like, with minimal impact on joints. With so many benefits from this healthy activity, sports medicine professionals still see many patients injured in the water. How can you avoid becoming one of them?

Shoulders, Elbows & Hands

Swimming and Water Polo both require repetition, and this is is the reason for most aquatic injuries. The hundreds of swimming strokes, or swinging your arm to hit the ball can take a toll on your soft tissues and joints. Common aquatic arm injuries are tendinitis, bursitis, impingements or rotator cuff injuries. Tendinitis and bursitis result from inflammation to those soft tissues and the tissue becomes increasingly irritated. Carpal tunnel is another very painful repetitive motion injury in which the nerves running from your wrist to your fingers become compressed by the channels through which they pass.

The best cure for most of these problems is rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory drugs from your sports medicine professional, but a better strategy is prevention. Warm up adequately so that you are not pulling at cold muscles that can tear during the activity. To prevent impingements and rotator cuff issues, practice proper form so that your arm’s motion is natural and smooth, and stretch frequently.


Kicking improperly often results in a sprain to the knee or a Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL). Sprains stretch or tear the ligaments and tendons so they no longer properly support the joint and your knee becomes unstable. Your MCL can be torn, which often requires surgery and rehabilitation. Prevention is proper technique, and adequate warmup.

Back and Neck

A bad dive can break your neck, causing paralysis. Sports medicine professionals advise against diving into a pool with unfamiliar depth. Other back and neck injuries come from poor stroke and kick technique, which may lead to a slipped disc between your vertebrae. This condition is very painful and potentially disabling. Practice your technique often and stop exercising before you get tired and sloppy. To avoid the repetitive stress on your neck from freestyle breathing, stretch your neck in the opposite direction.

Water sports are a fantastic way to keep fit and active with less damage to your body. Use common sense, warm up well, and practice good form to stay healthy and safe in the water.For more aquatic safety tips, talk to your sports medicine professional.


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