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View Poll Results: Have you experienced shoulder pain while swimming?
Yes, I have experienced shoulder pain when swimming 38 70.37%
No, I have not experienced shoulder pain when swimming 16 29.63%
Voters: 54. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-07-2011
cynthiam cynthiam is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: San Francisco, USA
Posts: 169

I started learning to swim (at my Y and also incorporating TI) about a year and a half ago. For the first 8-10 months, I had some pain especially in my left shoulder. I noticed it when I'd bring my arm across my chest and scratch/massage the right side of my neck. There was also some discomfort in the rear of that shoulder.

I go to an orthopedic massage therapist who told me the pain was mostly where the biceps attaches. He also said there was some other stuff in there (which I'd noticed for years -- since I was in my early 30's, and I'm 48 now) and suspected some rotator cuff issues. I used to lift weights and do push-ups but haven't in years.

The right one, not so much. A little discomfort here and there, mostly on the outside/rear, but nothing consistent.

At this point, that left shoulder pain is virtually gone. I didn't even notice that until this thread was started. My shoulders feel better overall now than they have in recent memory, and I do nothing else but swim. My shoulder flexibility and range of motion are better now than when I started to swim, and I attribute the improvements specifically to the TI method of training and swimming.
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Old 03-08-2011
dshen dshen is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Posts: 200

I used to get pain while swimming long sets that forced me to hit a certain interval and/or had sprints in them. So much tension built up plus bad form led to sore muscles in shoulders but thankfully ART managed that muscle tightness.

But after learning TI, all that pain went away!
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Old 03-24-2011
drmike drmike is offline
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 31
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Dr. Scott Rodeo gave me some “handouts” on shoulder pain in swimming last week, taken from findings of the Sports Medicine Task Force on Swimmer’s Shoulder. The following excerpt is relevant to this thread.

1) Hand entry that crosses the mid-line
2) Impingement exacerbated by thumb-first hand entry
3) Lack of body roll
4) Breathing only on one side may lead to compensatory cross-over on non-breathing side
5) Improper head position (eyes forward is wrong > this impedes normal scapulothoracic motion)
6) New freestyle teaching is to use early hand exit
7) Proper balance in water comes from pushing the center of buoyancy (sternum) and head into water in order to float the legs

1) Avoid straight arm recovery
2) More body roll
3) Breathe bilateral
4) Early catch, early recovery
5) Don’t keep the head up (look down)
6) Little finger first hand entry

This list reads like an inventory of Terry’s Tenets. A TI coach not represented here had debilitating shoulder pain when competing in high school and college, and he told me the two main stroke alterations that saved him from surgery were front quadrant swimming (~ patient lead hand) and better head alignment (eyes down).

People seem to differ sharply in their tolerance of these stroke habits. In my town, plenty of people swim +/- flatly, some with a cricked neck, or thumb-first entries, or straight arm recoveries, or radical crossover, & some pull hard w/ no hint of FQS. They persist like this for years, yet few admit to shoulder pain when quizzed. Others have predisposing factors that demand impeccable form, w/o which early damage can be lifelong.

Surgeons give me 75% chance of relief from pain and quick fatigue w/ operations on both shoulders to tighten loose ligaments, remove thickened bursa, re-anchor cartilage to bone, shave AC joints, but then I may be worse. A conservative option is to stick to other strokes, but I reallywould miss FS. It would be great if more youth coaches paid attention to these points in pushing their yutes, some of whom will incur avoidable injury.
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Old 03-26-2011
Danny Danny is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 1,442

I posted my shoulder story about 6 days ago, so I won't repeat it here, but I'd like to thank CoachSuzanne for putting out this thread. I contains lots of the type of info I was looking for. Two questions emerge from this that I want to pursue further, so I will put them in a separate thread on "scapular plane swimming" and "EVF". Thanks again

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