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5 Most Common Swimming Injuries

5 Most Common Swimming Injuries

Table of Contents


What are the most common swimming injuries?

  1. Swimmer's Shoulder
  2. Breaststroke Swimmer's Knee
  3. Neck Injuries
  4. Lower Back Injuries
  5. Concussions

1. Swimmer's Shoulder

The sport of swimming is notorious for being very hard on the shoulders. If a swimmer does not have good pull form when swimming, they can easily hurt their shoulder as there are so many repetitions on the shoulder in order to pull the swimmer through the water. What is commonly referred to as 'swimmer's shoulder' can include injuries such as rotator cuff impingement, rotator cuff tears, bicep tendonitis, and bursitis.

Many of the top swimmers have had shoulder surgeries or have even retired from the sport due to shoulder issues. Most recently, Missy Franklin struggled with shoulder issues before her retirement from the sport.

2. Breaststroke Swimmer's Knee

When competing in swimming at a high level, breaststroke can have serious impacts on the knees due to the intensity at which the swimmer is utilizing the breaststroke style kick. Swimming breaststroke at high intensity and high repetition can cause damage to the ligaments in the knee. If left too long, it can severely damage the medial collateral ligament, or MCL.

This earns the second spot due to the prevalence of knee injuries in swimmers who are primarily breaststrokers or compete in the individual medley.

3. Neck Injuries

Swimming can cause a high amount of strain to the neck, especially if the swimmer is not using proper form. If the head is held too low in the water or the swimmer lifts their head to breathe rather than turning to the side, they can injure their neck muscles due to not having the proper alignment for swimming. Rotating the head incorrectly during freestyle or moving the head incorrectly to breathe for breaststroke can also pose risk of injury to the neck while swimming. Swimmers also run the risk of hurting their necks if they do not execute a proper diving start.

Neck injuries come in third because they can often be connected to shoulder issues and minor neck strain can be corrected with tweaking one's technique.

4. Lower Back Injuries

Lower back injuries can occur in swimming a few different ways. Like most of the other injuries on this list, lower back injuries can be the result of poor technique. Swimming with a high head position or if a swimmer's hips are sinking in the water can both cause problems with the lower back due to the back overarching to compensate for the body not being properly aligned. Lower back injuries can also occur after a bad diving start or even when getting out of the pool.

Lower back injuries earn a spot on the list because though not as common as shoulder, neck, and knee injuries, it is still an issue swimmer's should be aware of as their improper form can lead to straining their lower back.

5. Concussions

Concussions are traumatic brain injuries that occur due to impact. Concussions are an issue throughout nearly every sport, whether competitive or recreational. Concussions commonly occur in swimming when a swimmer hits their head on the wall, especially while swimming backstroke. Concussions can also occur from colliding with another swimmer in the water or slipping on deck and hitting your head.

Concussions earn a spot on this list because while they are an injury that is not commonly associated with swimming, they are a very serious injury and occur more commonly in swimming than people realize.