Shoulder injuries from beginners class freestyle
My journey to master freestyle is no success so far. After doing a beginners class (Traditional front crawl" not TI) and moving from 0 to 50 meter front crawl in the period january to april I got pains in my right shoulder. Not severe pains in april but enough to make me stop swimming. Due to my bad technique (videos show my hands crossing the "midline") I was about to start the Total Immersion drills (bought the Ultra-Efficient Freestyle course) but decided to take no risk. I feel the pains in the shoulder when I move my arm backwards ( like reaching my jeans backpacket or buckling the seat belt). Four moths later its better (guess 30 of the pain is gone) but I still have pain and do no swimming. Aynone else experiencing this? Are there excerises I should do to recover faster? When I start swimming again, will the TI method put less stress on the shoulders than traditional freestyle?
I am no coach or therapist, but I also had shoulderpain and what helped a lot for me personally is the following stretching exercise
Standing you grab a bar just above your head and you let yourself hang. So your shoulder gets good stretches. I do this twice a day for a few minutes, now I have no pain anymore
For the swimming you should indeed not cross the centerline and also on the recovery do not let your hand go past you shoulder
if you are crossing the centerline, rotate too little or are recovering the arms behind the shoulder plane you put yous shoulders at risk be it TI or traditional swimming.
Google swimmers shoulder.
USA swimming and others have a lot of exercises to strengten the shoulder at certain places and/or get more mobility in other aereas.
There are several things which can induce pain in the shoulder, here a list of my former problems:
- pulling to hard: You should not really pull, but let the hand where it is and pull your body over the hand.
- pulling to early: does not mean wrong timing, but it's not well for the shoulder if you pull when your hand (and arm) is in an high outstretched position. Even with high shoulder flexibility which makes it possible to spear horizontal, you can't pull from that position. You have to let the arm sink under the horizontal line before pulling. Esp. if you really try to pull with a high elbow. Trying to rotate the shoulder in this position (high elbow is rotating the shoulder) irritates the tendon of a shoulder muscle (supraspinatus) and the synovial bursa of the shoulder.
the same in the recovery
- ellbow lead is a good thing but one can overdo it. I was spearing to late in the attempt to have a nice leading elbow :o)
What you can do at home to get the shoulder right again:
- seeing a doctor, maybe you have an inflammation. It takes ages cure an inflammation in the shoulder esp. without medicaments.
- training the rotating muscles of your shoulder and the biceps (someone should show you who knows how to do and who can correct you)
- training the muscles which fix the scapula.
By the way, I began swimming freestyle because I had problems with my shoulders and always had pain when swimming breaststroke (backstroke is nearly impossible in our crowded pool). At some time it was worse. That was the point when I tried to figure out what was wrong. Now the problems with the shoulder are completely gone.
When I first started swimming real freestyle it was as an adult too. When I started to add more volume to my swim training I got shoulder pain too. I think it was a rotator cuff issue. I believe this was probably as I was swimming very flat without much body rotation which caused me to recover my arm in such a way it cause enormous stress on my shoulder joint.
As I recall it took a long time, several months, to really recover. I would still swim periodically and would just take a few days off once I felt any discomfort again.
After a while of swimming learning more about technique (I think this was the time I found TI) it eventually recovered and I haven't had any issues since.
Next time you go swimming you could try what's called a straight arm recovery over the top of the water instead of a high elbow. If this causes far less stress it's definitely that your shoulder is trying to operate outside it's range of motion with a high elbow recovery and you could probably benefit from more body rotation.
If you've had a swim coach telling you to 'make yourself taller in the water' or 'longer' you may also be overreaching as you place your hand out in front of you which can cause problems too as that can cause a tendancy to push down on the water loading the shoulder joint in a way it's really not 'designed' to have load.
TI has some fantastic drills that can probably solve many of these issues in only a few trips to the pool. See what materials you can find online and when you realise how great it is you might like to then purchase an updated book or video tutorial.
I've made a few assumptions in my post but I hope this helps.
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