Five Common Swimming Injuries and How to Avoid Them

August 11, 2021

swimmer with injury Ask any Long Islander what the best part of summer is and they’ll likely say spending time at the beach or pool. Swimming is a popular pastime in general, but its popularity skyrockets during the summer, especially on the Island. As fun as swimming is, you need to make sure you don’t overdo it or take the proper precautions.

Here are the five most common swimming-related injuries:

1. Swimmer’s Shoulder

One of the biggest injuries, this is caused by the unique and repetitive motion of a swimmer’s stroke, which strains arm and shoulder muscles and can eventually lead to tissue damage. Swimmer’s shoulder may include rotator cuff impingement, bicep tendonitis, bursitis, or rotator cuff tears. You can prevent these by perfecting your stroke—your entire hand should enter the water at once, not thumb-first—and by avoiding unnecessary strain.

2. Swimmer’s Knee

When people think about swimming, arms and shoulders usually first come to mind, but your legs and hips bear much of the force too. Swimmer’s knee usually affects those who favor the breaststroke due to the position of your feet as you kick. Avoid this by varying your routine, improving the angle at which your legs move from your hips, and performing strengthening activities.

3. Neck Injuries

Your neck is another little-known swimming injury target, whether from keeping your head above water when performing the breaststroke or the rotation of your neck during a freestyle swim. Keep your neck safe by aligning it with the rest of your body while swimming, and rotating everything completely (instead of just your neck) when you take breaths.

4. Lower Back Pain

Because you spend a significant amount of time with your back in a hyperextended position when swimming, it’s common to develop lower back pain due to lumbar disc disease or spondylosis (wear and tear of your spinal discs). Strengthening your core and taking frequent breaks can help mitigate this injury.

5. Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s ear may not be related to orthopedics, but it’s still a common and painful result of too many laps in the pool or ocean, especially in children. Symptoms may include muffled hearing, clogged ear canals, an itching sensation in your ear, or sensitivity to your outer ears and can cause swelling and fever if untreated. Avoid this by cleaning your ears after every swim. But if you do develop swimmer’s ear, your doctor will thoroughly clean your ear and prescribe medicated ear drops.


If you’re suffering from orthopedic pain, whether or not it’s caused by swimming, contact the subspecialists at Orlin & Cohen, a leading Long Island orthopedic practice. Immediate appointments are available: Schedule yours now.