Common Orthopedic Injuries as a Swimmer

Swimming is an excellent cardio activity, especially for patients with mobility issues. The intense workout gives you all of the benefits of extreme aerobic activity, with few of the joint issues that come with high impact sports, like running and tennis. That being said, here are a few injuries that sports medicine professionals often see in competitive swimmers.


The most common swim-related injury comes from shoulder overuse. Impingement, bursitis, and tendinitis are all a result of repetitive strokes and are exacerbated if your form is incorrect while performing them. Be sure to warm up well and practice good form. When tired, stop swimming to avoid forming bad habits and sloppy technique. Quality is a higher priority than quantity in this case.

Neck and Lower Back

As you propel yourself through the water, stress is placed on the spine from hip and leg action. Some strokes cause the legs to kick in such a way that the lower back is twisted and bent. Overuse translates to extreme pain and sends you to the sports medicine specialist. The motion of turning your head to breathe creates a similar problem. Since there is no way to stop breathing or kicking during swimming, do the next best thing and warm up well. Stretch all muscle groups including your neck and back. Learn correct kicking and breathing techniques.


Swimming for any length of time means you will be doing hundreds to thousands of kicks in the water. Poor form and overuse may both result in inflammation of the knee’s tendons and ligaments. This can be painful and cause instability when you try to stand on the affected leg. Meniscus or cartilage injuries may require a sports medicine surgeon’s attention, as can torn or ruptured ligaments and tendons. Here again, correct technique is critical in avoiding knee injuries, and when you become tired, stop swimming.

Swimming is a great way to stay fit without overly stressing your joints. Caution should always be taken to warm up, perform strokes properly, and do not overexert or exhaust yourself. Consult your sports medicine professional for more great information about preventing swimming injuries.

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