Everything You Need To Know About Swimmer's Shoulder

Swimming is one of the most popular activities in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, swimming ranks in the top five of all sporting activities, but why?

In addition to being a fun activity, swimming has many health benefits. For example, swimming can improve your mood and reduce your anxiety (via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Furthermore, swimming can also potentially reduce your risk of death.

However, all of that time in the water can lead to damage to your body. According to the Cleveland Clinic, people who frequently swim are at risk of shoulder issues from overuse. In fact, 65% of swimmers experience a shoulder injury during their lifetime, but they are not the only ones.

According to Healthline, others who frequently use their shoulders — including baseball players, construction workers, and painters — are at risk of developing "swimmer's shoulder." This condition is medically referred to as shoulder impingement.

Shoulder pain should not be ignored. Here are the signs of swimmer's shoulder and how to treat it.

Shoulder impingement: symptoms, treatment, and prevention

If you have trouble moving your shoulder, shoulder pain that travels from front to back, or notice changes in your daily shoulder muscle function, you may have swimmer's shoulder (via Healthline). 

"Repeated arm motions against the resistance of water can leave shoulder tendons inflamed and swollen," physical therapist Kelly Kinsey told the Cleveland Clinic. The swelling can cause friction between nearby bones, muscles, and tendons — do not ignore the signs of the swimmer's shoulder. Without treatment, the condition could worsen and lead to a torn labrum or rotator cuff (via Cleveland Clinic). Unfortunately, a tear (or untreated swimmer's shoulder) may require surgery. On the brighter side, most people affected by swimmer's shoulder do not require surgery, and there are many non-surgical treatment options (via Cleveland Clinic).

Ice and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen, may help with the inflammation (via Healthline). At home, try to find a balance between overuse and rest. Overuse can aggravate the injury, while underuse can lead to inflexibility. Healthcare professionals can also help — in some cases, your doctor may give you a steroid injection (via Cleveland Clinic), while physical therapy may promote healing.

Swimmer's shoulder is very common, but it does not need to be inevitable. You can prevent shoulder injuries by stretching and performing exercises at home (via Cleveland Clinic).