Fitness and Performance

How can I prevent injury when I return to swimming?

Jun 30 2020

We know that the last few months have been challenging for those of you that use swimming as your main source of exercise… 

Perhaps you have braved some open water swims to maintain fitness and exposure. Or perhaps it’s just been a long break away from an activity you love 

With the opening of gyms and swimming pools becoming more of a reality as each week passes, we want to make sure that you’re ready to get back into the water and have the tools to reduce your risk of injury. 

Injuries are never completely preventable. Sometimes you can do everything right and still get injured. However, what we can do is mitigate those risk as much as possible. The four main areas to focus on at home and in pool are planning, strength, mobility and technique.  

Planning for your return to swimming

Planning is arguably the most important aspect of training for injury prevention, no matter what your sport or activity. An appropriate training plan can mitigate your risk of injury and aid progression.  

With many people having had a few months away from swimming, with minimal access to facilities, gradual training progression is key.  

One thing is certain, your body is no longer used to the stresses and demands placed on it while swimming. Therefore, it’s important to start your first session at a lower 60-70% intensity than what you previously completed. Gradually increasing your time or distance each week by around 10%.  

Build your strength 

The shoulder is the joint with the largest range of movement. As a result, it is typically the most prone to injury in swimmers. Upper body strength is an important aspect of training and is often neglected. Adding a short and simple sequence of strengthening exercises 2-3 x week to your training can improve your control and stability around the joint to reduce injury.  

Building your strength and power will also help to improve your performance. You may start to see your times reducing, or simply that each length feels easier. 

In this week’s video series we’ve put together a series of specific upper limb strengthening exercises for swimmers.  

Increase your mobility 

Although the shoulder has the largest range of movement, overhead mobility can quickly become restricted. It is really important to stay on top of this. Having tightness in your Lats or thoracic spine can reduce your ability to perform the most efficient stroke and put extra stress on the shoulder. Over time this could also lead to injury. 

As part of this week’s video series, we show you a quick and easy screening method to see if you have an overhead restriction and a few mobility exercises to help correct this.  

Assess your technique on your return to swimming

Swimming is a skill that a lot of us learn from a very young age. Often we can take this for granted as we get older. 

Taking a minute to look at your technique and style may save you a lot of time in the long run. Although technique only accounts for a small portion of injuries in swimmers, mitigating this factor is an easy step to take to reduce your risk of injury on your return to swimming.  

If you do have an acute or stubborn injury that just won’t shift, please get in touch or book in for an assessment to give yourself the best chance of recovery.