Preventing common swimming injuries

Jason Van de Sande
Wednesday, July 5 2017
competitive swimmers in a race

Having worked closely with the Milton Marlin coaches and athletes since 2006, the clinical staff at Lifemark’s two physiotherapy clinics in Milton have a thorough understanding of the sport of swimming, the most common injuries and how best to prevent them.

Swimming involves highly repetitive joint movement and muscle activity. With this repetition often comes fatigue, which may lead to failure to adhere to proper stroke techniques. Many swimmers also demonstrate tremendous flexibility or joint laxity.  This makes for a good swimmer, but tends to demand higher levels of strength to control the mobility. Slight injuries and micro-trauma can lead to shoulder pain and tendinitis. Other repetitive injuries include inner knee problems and hip problems from breaststroke kicking, and back injuries from dolphin kicks or dry-land cross-training.

woman swimming in butterfly style

How can swimming injuries be treated and prevented?

  • Communication between the athlete, parent, coach, and medical professional is critical to both successful recovery and prevention of future injury
  • Use good stroke technique
  • Lessen repetitive strokes that may be causing overuse injury
  • Always stretch 
  • Perform core strengthening and cross-training exercises as part of pre and early season routines
  • Rather than training through an injury, consider alternative training techniques
  • Focus rehabilitation efforts on rotator cuff and scapular strengthening for most shoulder injuries, and pelvic and hip strengthening exercises for hip and knee injuries
  • Take the proper time to rest and recover
  • The athlete should return to full activity only when clearance is granted by a health care professional
  • Speak with a physiotherapist or sports medicine professional if you have any concerns about injuries or prevention strategies

If you've been injured while swimming, or would like to learn more: or