Swimmer's shoulder

At this time of year, the clear, crisp waters of Cottesloe, Coogee and Dunsborough are at their most inviting. Most of us love to get down there as much as we can during the summer, many use the beaches as a great place to exercise. Some of the crazier ones are even planning to swim to Rottnest in February! But for a small portion of swimmers, a sore shoulder is the thing standing in the way of their enjoyment of WA’s best water.

Swimmer’s shoulder

Swimmer’s shoulder is an umbrella term for a variety of conditions which can develop as a result of repetitive shoulder movements. If you notice your shoulder gets sore the longer you swim, or are worried that there’s a bit of discomfort hanging around, here are two ideas to help you out:


Swimmer’s shoulder is generally a problem of repetition. It makes sense then that the simplest way to avoid this is with variety. Mix some backstroke or sidestroke in with your swimming routine to give a breather to the parts of the shoulder which are worked in freestyle. Make sure your breathing technique is one in which you rotate to both sides of your body so that one shoulder isn’t working harder than the other to consistently lift your neck out of the water.


Ensuring there’s healthy variety to your swim is a good first step. But this isn’t always possible (those training for a competition) and sometimes variety doesn’t take you all the way to pain-free swimming, or perhaps not as soon as you’d like. If this is the case, a thorough swimming-oriented physio assessment can help to identify the underlying causes of the pain and then address them. Your physio will assess the shoulder joint, muscles, tendons and any signs of inflammation. They’ll even look further afield to understand if any issues with the neck or the nerves are contributing. A quick check early after the onset of pain can often help to prevent a more difficult problem from developing and get you started on an individualised program of recovery.

If you’re hoping to make the most of the West Aussie summer and are worried that your shoulder is going to stand in your way, we’re happy to help by chatting about the variety in your program or assessing your shoulder for underlying issues. Call us on (08) 9364 4073 or drop in to 8 Riseley Street for an appointment.