Epidemiology of injuries and prevention strategies in competitive swimmers.
Musculoskeletal overuse injuries are a common source of pain in competitive swimmers. The highly repetitive motion that occurs can predispose swimmers to musculoskeletal injuries of the upper limb, knee, and spine.
A 5-year survey from the National Collegiate Athletic Association revealed that overall elite swimmer injury rates were 4.00 injuries/ 1000 hrs training for men and 3.78 injuries/ 1000 hrs training for women. Shoulder injuries are the most common injuries, with prevalence between 40% and 91% and knee injuries are the second-most-reported sources of pain in competitive swimmers. Mechanical loading of the spine in competitive sports may result in lumbar intervertebral disk degeneration. The incidence of pain and injury is greater in athletes with a poor stroke technique.
Endurance training and strengthening program for the shoulder and periscapular muscles, with emphasis placed on the serratus anterior, rhomboids, lower trapezius, and subscapularis, may help prevent injuries. Abdominal and scapular muscle strengthening should be emphasized in the dry-land training program. The goal of core and abdominal strengthening is to develop increased control of the pelvis by avoiding excessive anterior pelvic tilt and lumbar lordosis.
Lower extremity muscle strengthening and flexibility exercises should be routinely included for breaststroke swimmers. As soon as the athlete experiences pain, training intensity, distance, and frequency should be adjusted. > From Wanivenhaus et al., Sports Health 4 (2012) 246-251. All rights reserved to The Author(s).
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