Swimming Injuries

Swimming is an excellent low-impact activity to improve strength, endurance and cardiovascular health. But whether you swim competitively or just to stay in shape, injuries can happen. The sports medicine specialists at Henry Ford Health offer comprehensive care for swimmers and divers of all activity levels.

Swimming injury causes

Many competitive swimmers practice twice a day. They may also train year-round without rest periods, which can lead to a range of overuse injuries.

Swimmers use the same body mechanics as overhead throwers for many swim strokes. This means their arm and shoulder muscles may get overworked, while other muscles in their back or legs aren’t strong enough. Freestyle, backstroke and butterfly can lead to neck and shoulder injuries. The kickout motion of the butterfly and breaststroke can even result in knee injuries.

Divers are prone to a different set of injuries. They can get concussions and other head injuries if they hit their heads on the diving board. When diving from high heights, they’re also at risk of neck and wrist injuries from the force of their bodies hitting the water.

Common swimming injuries we treat

Our sports medicine specialists treat a wide range of swimming injuries, including:

  • Bicep tendinitis
  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury (breaststroker’s knee)
  • Neck and low back pain
  • Patellar tendinitis
  • Rotator cuff tendinitis or tears
  • Shoulder impingement syndrome (swimmer’s shoulder)

Swimming injury treatment

Our team uses a variety of techniques to treat shoulder pain and other swimming injuries, including:

  • Customized strength training: We help swimmers develop total body strength, focusing on the muscles of the back, core and legs. Strengthening these muscles takes stress off the arms and shoulders.
  • Active rest: We may recommend rowing, elliptical training or an anti-gravity treadmill to help you stay conditioned as you rest and recover.
  • 3D motion capture: We use state-of-the-art technology at our Center for Athletic Medicine to analyze your joint movement and functionality. This information helps us recommend adjustments to your technique to minimize the risk of re-injury.
  • Integrative medicine: Sports medicine specialists can enhance your treatment plan with complementary therapies such as yoga, massage or chiropractic care.

Most swimming injuries heal over time with nonsurgical treatments. For swimmers who do need surgery, the orthopedic surgeons at Henry Ford offer a variety of innovative techniques. We excel in minimally invasive surgeries that allow you to recover in less time so you can return to your sport.

Swimming injury prevention

We help you reduce the risk of re-injury so you can stay at the top of your game. Tips for preventing swimming injuries include:

  • Practice correct stroke and breathing techniques.
  • Stay conditioned year-round with cross-training exercise (dryland or non-swimming activities), such as cycling or yoga.
  • Take an active rest period at the first sign of an injury. Don’t push through pain.
  • Practice other strokes. Focusing on a single stroke puts too much repetitive stress on the same muscle groups.

Swimming injury care: Why choose Henry Ford?

At our sports medicine program, you’ll find:

  • Coordinated care: Physicians and certified athletic trainers work together to deliver seamless care. Henry Ford trainers are poolside for many area swim teams. They can provide treatment at practice or meets and refer you to an experienced sports medicine physician, if necessary.
  • Minimally invasive treatment options: From Tenex procedures to treat Achilles and Patellar tendons to plasma-rich protein (PRP) injections to treat knee injuries there are options available to reduce procedure time, hasten recovery and increase potential for improved outcomes.
  • Performance optimization: We help injuries heal, but we also help you improve your performance. Experts focus on enhancing your strength, technique and endurance so you return to the pool feeling your best.
  • Convenient access: Most providers can see you within 24 to 48 hours, so you receive prompt care for your injury. We offer in-person and virtual appointments. Henry Ford also features walk-in orthopedic clinics with extended evening hours to fit your busy schedule.

Request an appointment

Request an appointment or learn more about our sports medicine services. We offer in-person and virtual visits.

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Have an injury?

Appointments within 24 business hours. Virtual visits available. Call (313) 651-1969.


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