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Protect Your Shoulder when Swimming and Gardening

Now that the weather is getting better and we are finally able to say good-bye to winter, more and more of us are planning to spend an increased amount of time outdoors.  This also means that we need to be more cognizant of our bodies when participating in outside activities such as gardening and swimming.  It is important to protect your shoulder when enjoying outdoor activities such as swimming and gardening this summer.

Some common injuries that are associated with the shoulder is due to overuse or improper lifting techniques.  A great example is when working outside in the yard or swimming for competition or everyday exercise during the summer months.  Whether it’s picking up heavy bags of mulch or planting flowers, or preparing for the upcoming swimmers meet, it is important to be mindful of your body mechanics as well as repetitive movements.

Swimmers’ shoulder is a common condition that can affect swimmers of all ages and levels of competition. The shoulder is a very mobile joint due to its ball and socket design, which gives it a large range of motion. Therefore, it needs to be stabilized by the muscles and ligaments that surround the joint. Weakness, muscle fatigue, over training, poor technique with stroke and muscle tightness all result in the shoulder muscles and ligaments being overworked.  Over time, injuries such as rotator cuff impingement tendonitis occur.  Impingement generally refers to the pinching of the rotator cuff against the bone every time you lift your arms overhead. Over time, the tendon becomes inflamed and results in constant pain, which is known as tendonitis.  Shoulder impingement and tendonitis are the result of overuse.

If not addressed, these issues can lead to more serious problems that can side-line you from competing in your swimming meets and enjoying your gardening afternoons as well as from being able to complete your everyday activities such as washing clothes and moving your shoulder to turn the wheel when driving.

Physical Therapy can help to alleviate your shoulder pain and help you to avoid having to miss your meets and get you back to enjoying your outdoor gardening hobby. Whether you’re a swimmer, a ball player, a parent trying to lift their baby without pain, or just someone who woke up one day with shoulder pain, physical therapy can help.

It is important to be mindful of our body mechanics as well as repetitive movement. Some suggestions to help you avoid injury to the shoulder area are:

  • When lifting something, especially heavy, you want to use your leg muscles instead of your shoulder and/or back muscles. Squat down to the ground and pick up the item keeping it close to you.  If you need to carry it somewhere then continue to keep it close to your body.  Any time you need to turn with the item, turn your entire body.
  • Whether preparing for a swim meet or gardening be sure to take rest breaks to prevent too much soreness in the shoulder. This is in reference to overuse.  Many people spend too much time performing the same task over and over again.  This can put wear and tear on a joint and cause inflammation.  If there was already inflammation in the joint, this will cause significant pain and possible injury to the tendons in the shoulder (i.e rotator cuff.)

If you are having discomfort after preparing for a swimming meet or gardening, put some ice on the area.  Ice will help alleviate the pain as well as decrease any inflammation.  If you have a prior history involving a specific joint/area, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put some ice on it anyway to prevent delayed onset muscle or joint soreness.

Due to the repetitive nature and the instability of the joint structure in the shoulder, it is easy to see why many swimmers and gardners suffer from overuse injuries.

At Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, our clinicians are experienced in treating all kinds of shoulder problems, By scheduling a full evaluation with one of our PhysicalTtherapists, they will run through a variety of tests to assess the supportive structures of your shoulder to determine what is causing your pain or problem. Our Physical Therapists will design an individualized treatment plan specific to you and your needs and goals.

Don’t shrug off shoulder problems. CALL Loudoun Sports Therapy Center at 703-450-4300 and schedule your free evaluation TODAY!

CLICK HERE for three tests you can try for some common shoulder injuries. 

CLICK HERE for some stretches to try before after you do your next outdoor activity.

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