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Physio Article 2


Avoiding 'Jetty Swimmers Shoulder' : PART 2

By Jeff Greenfield of Physio South West

In Part 1, we advised that a sensible, gradually progressed training program will minimise the risks of developing shoulder problems in the lead up to this year’s Jetty Swim.  In Part 2, we will cover some training tips that will further reduce your risks.

If you are a ‘summer only’ swimmer, it is often a good idea to start your training program using flippers.  The extra propulsion that the flippers give you allows you to slow down your stroke and take a significant load off your shoulders.  It also means that you are doing fewer stroke repetitions per training session in the early stages.  Although swimming with flippers in a pool can be a bit of a hassle, it is worth considering in the initial fortnight or so of your program.

To progress your program in the first 2-3 weeks, stick to a fairly consistent training distance or duration, but gradually wean yourself off the flippers.  This increases the workload on your shoulders gradually, minimising your risk of overuse injuries. 

The use of flippers also allows you to practice good swimming technique.  There are several basic technique errors that many swimmers demonstrate that can easily be corrected with the aid of flippers early on in your training program.

The first fault that many swimmers have is that they breathe to one side only.  This not only makes ocean swimming more difficult, but it increases the risk of developing shoulder impingement problems.  There is some debate as to which shoulder is more likely to be injured, but there is widespread agreement that unilateral (one-sided) breathers are at greater risk of shoulder problems than bilateral (both sides) breathers.

he other problem with unilateral breathing is when the ocean is choppy and you are breathing towards the oncoming waves.  The ability to breathe away from the oncoming water minimises your risk of getting a mouthful of water instead of a lungful of air.

Finally, do not lift your head and look up in front of you too frequently when you are ocean swimming.  This increases the strain on both your neck and shoulders, and causes your feet to sink in the water.  Back yourself to swim a straight line by orientating yourself to your shadow on the ocean floor or the direction of the wind chop on the water.  Try to look up only once every 60-80 strokes and your efficiency in the water will improve significantly.

No warranty is given as to the accuracy of the information on any of the pages in this article. No responsibility is accepted for any loss or damage suffered as a result of the use of that information or reliance on it. It is a matter for users to satisfy themselves as to their medical and physical condition to adopt the information or recommendations made. Notwithstanding a users medical or physical condition, no responsibility or liability is accepted for any loss or damage suffered by any person as a result of adopting the information or recommendations.