At this late stage of the game, with training loads at their maximum, there’s no doubt a few of you are starting to feel a bit of pain in your shoulders. Now the trick is to keep this pain at bay so you can reach the finish line and pick up a celebratory beer or two.
Firstly, a bit of background as to why your shoulders are getting sore... As you’ve increased your training for the big day, the unaccustomed repetitive action of your shoulder over and over under load has caused your rotator cuff (the muscles that attach your arm to your shoulder blade) to be overworked.
During freestyle, the shoulder is loaded in a fully elevated position, which is the toughest point for the rotator cuff to work. And unless your job involves repetitive shoulder movements in overhead positions eg. Painting, plastering or construction work, then your shoulders are typically in a downward position and your thoracic spine stays relatively immobile.
The shoulder is a highly mobile joint, which needs to be well controlled by the muscles and ligaments surrounding it. Over-training, fatigue, poor stroke technique, weakness, tightness and hypermobility can cause these tissues to be overworked. If this goes on for too long, impingement, tendinopathy and bursitis can occur. Swimmer’s shoulder is a broad term which encompasses all of these conditions that most commonly occur in swimmers.
If you’re finding this is the case for you, your first port of call is to control the inflammatory process which may be taking place in the structures around the joint. Postural impairments can also play a large part in shoulder pain and can be managed well through stretching, joint or soft tissue mobilisations, strengthening and stabilisation exercises of the scapular retractors and postural neck muscles.
Commonly, the problem areas that need correcting for swimmer’s shoulder injuries are the pectoral muscles, the posterior rotator cuff muscles and the thoracic spine. Below are three stretches that can help to keep your pain at a minimum for the last few days:
Thoracic spine stretch:
If you're finding that your pain persists following the swim, be sure to book in to see one of our qualified Physiotherapists.
For more information on one of the most iconic open water swims in the world go to Rottnest Channel Swim.