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CoachSuzanne 02-25-2011 07:21 PM

Poll: Have you experienced shoulder pain while swimming?
In light of the recent scapular motion/rotator cuff threads, I'm curious how many people have experienced shoulder pain from swimming.

If so, what did you do to cure it? Did you come to TI to seek relief? Did TI help your pain? Did TI make it worse?

Have you had surgery in the past or in the future? Has swimming helped with rehabilitation or hurt?

Please share details!

haschu33 02-25-2011 07:50 PM

'Old' shoulder pain
I used to play a lot of tennis when I was a teenager (daily, basically) and I got shoulder problems from practicing service. It was so bad that always next day I couldn't lift my arm to do service because of shoulder pain. It went away when I was warmed up, or maybe I just ignored it, I don't remember. It quite clearly was a tendon, and it never got treated. I didn't play tennis after I was 20, so I forgot about my shoulder.
When I started my freestyle swimming, which means TI swimming, it came back at a certain point and I got a litle worried. I experienced a lot with catch and pull and found a way to swim without any shoulder pain at all: I just have to use wide tracks, not to drop my elbow, and not apply any force during the catch. Particularly dropping the elbow and 'pulling' in the catch phase brings it immediately back.

Could have been worse :-)

I have a few limitations though: when skating I can't use too much rotation and too wide tracks at the same time on my right side where the 'bad' shoulder is, then it starts hurting. Yes, and when I stand firmly (on land) and stretch my arms straight in the sky I can just touch the ceiling of my bathroom with my left hand, but I am missing 1-2 cm with my right hand. Guess I have less shoulder flexibility on that right side. What to do. Doesn't really bother me.

CoachBillL 02-25-2011 10:11 PM

brief shoulder history
I took TI in Dec. 2007 partly because my fingers would get numb when I swam more than a mile (plus I knew I was a hopelessly mediocre swimmer.) By Spring 2009, my shoulders, especially upper traps, were sore enough that I sought medical advice, and did physical therapy (Blackburn exercises and all the standard light weight moves) all that summer, with a lot of rather cautious, mindful swimming. By Summer 2010, I could do 4,000 m. practices without anything more than an occasional twinge. When I started to do speed work this past December, things really started to hurt again, and I'm back to doing the exercises to see if that helps. I think if you're prone to this you just have to keep working on it, eschew discouragement, and be willing to lay off once in a while.

flppr 02-25-2011 10:46 PM

Prior to learning proper technique, I would experience not pain, but fatigue in my shoulders. Ever since I learned to move my arms in the scapular plane, I feel neither pain nor fatigue in my shoulders.

Grant 02-26-2011 12:03 AM

After my first year of swimming (non TI) I developed sore shoulders whenever I would raise my hands above my head. The Sports Med Dr gave me excercises to open up the shoulder joint and doing them on my off swimming days I have been pain free for 17 years.
Except when I pulled the longhead of the biceps tendon (left) doing pushups 2 years ago. This has healed with cortisone shots and the advice pull dont push. No pushups, dips or pull ups.
Lately after doing alot of fly I have some tenderness that seems to abate after a slow warmup.
TI freestyle does not cause any shoulder distress. The exercises I feel insures that the shoulder joint is held open.
May we swim with ease at the speeds we choose.

forests 02-26-2011 12:41 AM

Pre-TI, I experienced more fatigue than pain. However I did have a swim coach tell me to spear thumbs first on my entry. I tried it for a week and rehabed my shoulders for 2 months. 18 mos. into TI, I find that if I cross the centerline (laser beam) for any extended period of time, I have mild pain. Solution: wide tracks=no pain!

CoachEricDeSanto 02-26-2011 03:38 AM

I had problems with my proximal bicep tendon (it attaches to the shoulder. although I felt it slightly below). I don't know why, but I seem to be very prone to tendon issues. I was a self-taught TIer at the time. I have not felt it in freestyle since I learned TI. I am having problems with my left tendon now with breast stroke. But as Terry so graciously put it in Minn, "Wow, you have a lot of room for improvement there."

By the way, if any knows why a person would be especially prone to tendon injuries, I'd like to know. I have had problems with tendons in both wrists (diving), both elbows (soccer and water polo goalie), both shoulders (swimming and diving), my low back (??) both hips, both knees (quad, patellar and IT band, after a bad cycling crash), both achilles tendons (running) and both feet (tap dancing). It gets a bit annoying after a while.

Richardsk 02-26-2011 07:49 AM

"By the way, if any knows why a person would be especially prone to tendon injuries, I'd like to know. I have had problems with tendons in both wrists (diving), both elbows (soccer and water polo goalie), both shoulders (swimming and diving), my low back (??) both hips, both knees (quad, patellar and IT band, after a bad cycling crash), both achilles tendons (running) and both feet (tap dancing). It gets a bit annoying after a while."

I remember being told long ago by a track and field coach that tendon strength was inherited and there was nothing you could do to improve it.

For all I know this may be untrue. Perhaps one of the medical experts will comment.

donwu 02-26-2011 08:17 AM

When I was doing TI, I was trying out EVF, I exaggerated it to try what is the effect like, however, I've gotten pain in my shoulders and told myself not to do it again. Just found out how not to "over-do" EVF.
Ever since then, no pain.

drmike 02-26-2011 03:15 PM

Intense bilateral shoulder pain forced me to quit competitive swimming part-way through high school. It was diagnosed as bursitis, but hydrocortisone injections did not help. Lifting the arms to brush teeth or comb hair was agonizing, and the shoulders have never been healthy since then. (I’m ~ the same age as Spitz and Laughlin but sans the skill of either.)

TI gave me hope that I could retool my FS to rely upon core propulsion, spare the shoulders, and swim a mile again w/o alternating between FR, BR & BK on every lap. I can do TI drills w/o pain until the manatees come home, but a few measly 50 y sets of slow-to-moderate FS and I’m out of the water for weeks—like now—at which times breathing hurts.

TI did NOT make the pain worse. Swimming did. A few TI coaches and other good swimmers said my stroke is decent, but they pointed to two bad habits I learned in high school, e.g., thumb-first entry. There is occasional relapse, but these habits have been largely undone (I think).

I’ve done stretching and stabilization routines for eons, w/ modest benefit. Some recommended by “experts” ignite the pain and spasm—e.g., stretch cords and the Body Blade are much worse than light weights for my RCs. I’m regularly doped-up on NSAIDS, tried many nutritional ideas, used ice, heat, e-stim, ART, deep tissue and trigger point massage (the rhomboids can be gristle-like), ultrasound, steroid injections … w/o much help.

In two weeks I will consult Dr. Scott Rodeo at HSS to see if he has any pearls. The Left Bankart lesion acquired last year may be fixable, but it can’t explain the long-standing L & R pain. If there is a good chance surgery can improve the condition of either shoulder then I’m ready, but half of my previous 12 ops had their own untoward effects.

Eric - Like you, I have multiple tendinopathies: L & R medial epicondylitis , L & R lateral epicondylitis, L and R Achilles tendonitis, patellar tendonitis, R tibial tendonitis— all predated by shoulder and lumbar spine pain made worse by swimming. I have hyper-extensible joints, which may help to explain childhood sprains, but tendinopathies? The Levaquin I took for a couple months before surgery in 06 may have brought on the Achilles tendonitis and knee issues, though it's not provable. Some day a simple PCR or proteomics assay may pinpoint the mutations or variations in collagen, elastin, etc., that underlie some of these connective tissue issues, but a fix is what I seek.

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