How To Use Cold Therapy to Heal Swimming Injuries

swimming How To Use Cold Therapy to Heal Swimming Injuries

Swimming is a fun summer pastime as well as an extremely competitive sport. Luckily, swimming has a very low injury rate. The water softens impact and pools are often used for water therapy and rehabilitation. However, if you are a competitive swimmer, there are some potential injury risks. If you do sustain an injury, unlike other sports like basketball or soccer, braces and supports aren’t really an option in the pool. However, cold therapy can help you recover.

Common Swimming Injuries

Swimming is a full body sport that requires a combination of endurance and strength. Because swimming is a total body workout, most swimming-related injuries are overuse injuries. Like with most sports, proper training and conditioning can help reduce your risk of injury. If you find yourself with an injury from swimming, it will most likely be your shoulders, lower back or knees, as these are the most common places for swimming injuries.

Muscle Strain

Even with reduced impact from the water, muscles can still strain or tear while swimming. Most of these injuries occur during high speed swims. In addition to the shoulders, back and knees, muscle strains can also affect hamstrings, quadriceps, calf muscles and biceps.

Swimmer’s Shoulder

The term “swimmer’s shoulder” refers to shoulder pain in swimmers that usually caused by a combination of overuse and an impingement syndrome or tendonitis. Swimmer’s shoulder causes inflammation in the rotator cuff muscles which lie adjacent to the shoulder. Because the act of swimming involves overhead arm movements, shoulders can also suffer micro-traumas as a result of increased stress on the muscles and joints. This can lead to tendonitis in the rotator cuff, biceps or subacromial. Micro-traumas can be caused by a sudden increase in activity, existing shoulder issues or lack of proper technique.

Swimmer’s Knee

When you swim, your legs help to propel you through the water both by pushing off the wall and by kicking to increase speed. Improper kicking technique can lead to a condition called swimmer’s knee. Swimmer’s knee refers to knee injury caused by stress on the medial collateral ligament, which runs alongside the knee. This injury is most common in swimmers competing in the breaststroke because the ‘whip-kick’ technique used during this style affects the rotation of the medial collateral ligament. Swimmer’s knee, like other swimming injuries, can also be caused by overuse.

Cold Therapy Treatment

If you experience any of these injuries while swimming or after, cold therapy treatment can help ease the pain and get you back in the pool. Cold therapy uses the principles of the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). In the case of cold therapy, it’s ice and compression.

Using cold compression helps to reduce pain and swelling from injuries. The cold slows down the bloodflow to the injury, reducing inflammation. Cold therapy is good for minor injuries like sprains, muscle strains or muscle soreness. While cold therapy helps ease pain and swelling, more severe injuries should be examined by a doctor.

The best way to apply cold therapy is through an ice or gel pack 24 to 48 hours after the injury occurs. Apply cold packs to your injury for 20 minutes at a time, taking at least 10 minutes in between applications.

If your injury persists or worsens, consult your doctor; you may have a more serious injury that requires physical therapy and/or surgery.

 

Sources:

http://www.physioworks.com.au

http://www.enjoy-swimming.com/swimming-injuries.html

http://www.stopsportsinjuries.org/swimming-injury-prevention.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_compression_therapy

http://urcm.rochester.edu

http://www.physiotherapyprofessionals.com

http://www.Medic8.com

 

How to Prevent Shoulder Injuries From Swimming

Swimming is considered one of the best types of exercises for individuals who need an activity that is easy on the joints. However, most people are not aware of the shoulder injuries that can occur from swimming. The most common is known as swimmer’s shoulder, usually caused by repetitive use of the shoulder joint from swim strokes. In fact, up to 70% of competitive swimmers are affected by swimmer’s shoulder.

Here are some tips you can follow to decrease the chances of shoulder pain and injury from swimming:

  • Minimize injury by dealing with shoulder pain immediately. Take a break from swimming and ice the area to minimize inflammation. (Recommended: DonJoy Dura*Soft Shoulder Wrap)
  • Don’t swim if you’re sick, tired or cold. These symptoms are your body telling you that you may not be fully ready to swim, which could lead to injury.
  • Warm up before getting in the water. You can do some light jogging, walking or even jumping jacks. Anything that gets your blood pumping.
  • Stretch after warming up. Focus on your shoulders, but don’t forget to stretch your back, legs, and arms as well.
  • Perform exercises that strengthen the muscles, such as weightlifting. Build up the muscles in your shoulders and upper back.
  • Make sure you are using the proper swimming techniques. If necessary, take a class with a certified swim instructor.

As with any activity, health comes first. If you do find that you have persistent shoulder pain, make sure to consult your doctor.