How to Prevent Common Swimming Injuries

Swimming injuries usually involve the shoulders, knees, hips and back. The area of injury depends on the swim stroke that the swimmer practices most often. It is important to perform the strokes correctly and get adequate rest to prevent injuries.


Most swimming injuries are caused by overuse and improper stroke techniques. Pro swimmers who go through vigorous training periods for competitions are at higher risk of injury because of the excessive repetitive motions and inadequate rest for the muscles to heal. Fatigue would also cause swimmers to perform poor stroke techniques, causing constant micro-trauma and leading to injuries.

Types and Symptoms of Common Swimming Injuries

Swimmer’s Shoulder

One of the most common types of swimming injuries is the Swimmer’s Shoulder. Due to the perpetual stress on the upper body to propel forward during swimming, the rotator cuff of the shoulder blade is often overworked. The joint and muscles are weakened over time and activity, resulting in shoulder instability, inflammation, tears, ligament and cartilage damage.

Patients with Swimmer’s Shoulder may experience:

  • Pain along the back of the shoulder and sometime salong the front of the shoulder as well
  • Inflammation in the tendons and muscles
  • Pain worsens with activity

Breaststroker’s Knee

Breaststroker’s Knee makes 25% of all swimming injuries and is caused by the motion of kicking to generate speed through the water. If the movement is not done correctly, tension would build up inside the knee and injuring the tendons, ligaments and muscles.

Patients with Breaststroker’s Knee may experience:

  • Pain and swelling of the knee
  • Inflammation in the ligament, tendons and muscles
  • Pain worsens with activity
  • Knock-knees or bow-leggedness



At every swim session, ensure that proper warm up and cool down are done. When swimming, make sure that proper techniques are used. The arms should be raised high enough to complete each full stroke without the “lazy elbow” syndrome. Legs should be kicking correctly without subjecting the knees to external rotations. It is advisable to seek guidance from a coach to improve on swim techniques.

Swimmers should get adequate rest to avoid straining themselves and allow the muscles to recover. If symptoms of an injury have surfaced, stop all activities and ice the affected area to decrease inflammation. Seek a doctor’s advice if the symptoms do not subside even after plenty of rest.

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