Phone: (631) 456-5512

When swimmer’s shoulder grabs hold, local physical therapist keeps summer swimmers above water

Child swimming in a pool

Child swimming in a pool.


Patchogue, NY (June 27, 2013) – With warmer summer days, approximately 80 percent of Americans will take to water-related activities with an expected 200,000 swimming-related injuries requiring medical attention. The most common swimming-related injury is swimmer’s shoulder.

“Among Olympic swimmers and recreational swimmers alike, the most common injury keeping swimmers out of the wahttpter is rotator cuff tendonitis, more frequently known as swimmer’s shoulder,” said Gary Welch, a physical therapist and owner of Spectrum Physical Therapy in Patchogue, and a member of the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. “In most instances, swimmer’s shoulder is preventable by strengthening muscle groups surrounding a weakened rotator cuff.”

Welch offers the following strengthening and stabilizing exercises to prevent or minimize the effects of swimmer’s shoulder:

1) External Rotation with Elastic Band – attach one end of an elastic band to a wall or door; pull the other end of the band away from the stomach with elbow bent at a 90-degree angle; right arm pulls rightward away from the stomach; left arm pulls leftward away from the stomach

2) Prone Horizontal Abduction – lay body face down on a bench or firm bed; with one arm draped downward to the side; lift straightened arm out to the side until the arm is parallel to the ground

3) Elbow Push-Ups – body in plank position – similar to conventional push-ups – except with toes, palms and elbows on the floor using only the shoulders to lower and push up

4) Rowing – sit on the floor with knees bent at 90-degrees; place elastic band on the underside of flexed feet; sitting with the torso tall and straight, pull the elbows back, stretching the band and squeezing the shoulder blades

5) Y-T-W on an Exercise Ball – lay facedown with chest on the exercise ball and body in plank position; outstretch arms in Y position; change to T position; pull elbows to sides to make W position.
Repeat these exercises 15-20 times or as tolerated. If you have a rotator cuff injury already, I recommend that you see your orthopedic or contact us for an appropriate evaluation, assessment, and treatment protocol.
You can contact us at (631) 456-5512

A 2012 study commissioned by the Center for Health Exercise and Sports Medicine in Melbourne, Australia found that 38 percent of participants reported significant pain causing modification or cessation of their training. The study observed 74 competitive swimmers ranging in age from 11 to 27, and performing a minimum of five swim practices per week, with 23 percent reporting significant pain lasting for two or more weeks.

About The Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association
Founded in 1956, the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association champions the success of physical therapist-owned businesses. Our members are leaders and innovators in the health care system. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of physical therapy nationwide. For more information, please visit www.ppsapta.org.

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