Like many other sports, swimming is becoming a year- round activity. The increase in training sessions, weight lifting and cross training is leading to an increase in injuries among swimmers. This reference guide provides information on the most common swimming injuries requiring treatment.
Swimming can lead to overuse injuries in the arms, elbows and shoulders. Overuse injuries tend to occur when tissue, such as muscles and tendons, is damaged by repetitive motion activities. Without adequate time for recovery, the tissue cannot adapt to the demands placed on it and further damage is likely. Some common overuse shoulder injuries are:
The damage caused by repetitive stress leads to tissue inflammation that causes pain. Symptoms of overuse injuries, also considered chronic sports injuries, include:
A common sudden injury in breaststroke swimmers is a Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) sprain, which occurs when the knee is forced inward during a breaststroke kick. The swimmer will notice pain on the inner side of the knee. Athletes with a damaged MCL often experience pain, which may be followed by a lot of swelling within 24 hours.
Swimming puts a lot of demand on a young athlete’s back due to repetitive maneuvers that require hyperextension of the back and changes of direction. Some injuries to the back occur suddenly, and are commonly known as a back strain. Others occur more gradually, especially if the body doesn’t have time to recover properly.
Over time, repeated hyperextension of the low back can cause:
Therefore, it is important that dancers experiencing low back pain be restricted from activity until evaluated by their pediatrician or a pediatric sports medicine specialist.
Swimmers should aim to stay close to their competition weight in the off-season in order to avoid dangerous weight-cutting practices during the competitive season. Swimmers who desire to lose weight should not lose more than 1-2 pounds a week to avoid breakdown of lean body mass. Once swimmers achieve a healthy body weight, weight maintenance should be emphasized.
Weight loss is best achieved using a combination of reducing caloric intake and increasing calories burned. Nutrition tips for good weight control include:
These can affect all areas of the body. The recommended treatment response is the PRICE formula:
Protect the area with a sling or crutches, if necessary.
Rest the injured area.
Ice the injury for 20 minutes at a time. Do not apply the ice directly to the skin.
Compress the injured area with a wrap. Do not pull tightly, as this can cut off circulation.
Elevate the injured area above the heart, if possible.
Athletes should see a pediatrician or pediatric sports medicine physician if any of these symptoms are present:
Children ages 5 to 14 make up almost 40 percent of all sports injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms. Injuries in children are best handled by pediatric specialists trained in treating skeletally immature patients.
Taking the following steps can reduce your child’s risk of getting hurt. As a parent, you should:
Make sure your young athlete: