Swimming with a Rotator Cuff Injury
Please consult your doctor before trying any of the workouts on this site. The ideas offered here are only suggestions and are not a substitute for medical advice or care. These suggestions are not to recover your shoulder. They are to keep you swimming while you rehabilitate.
A rotator cuff injury can take a swimmer out of the water for an extended period of time. Tears, strains and dislocation take a long time to heal. While you are rehabilitating your shoulder, the rests of your body might be missing your regular workouts. Here are some ideas to keep you swimming, without aggravating your shoulder.
- Try breast stroke.
The arm movement in breast stroke is less severe than crawl or backstroke. Try using both arms. If that still irritates the injured shoulder, try doing breast stroke with one arm.
- Do sidestroke on your good side.
Similar to breast stroke, you might be able to swim on the side that does not have the rotator cuff injury. Keep the arm on your injured side laying on your hip, or folded across your abdomen.
- Tread water. If you are not too buoyant, treading water can be a good exercise. Use your legs in a scissor kick or try sculling in circles. Your good arm can be used to keep you balanced and provide additional treading. Keep your injured shoulder still with the arm at your side.
- Grab your kickboard.
The strain of holding a kickboard in front of you might be too much for your injured shoulder. Try holding the kickboard with the good arm, and fold the arm on the injured side across your abdomen or at your side. Do laps with a flutter kick, breast stroke kick, dolphin kick, and scissor kick.
- Do a kick workout without a kickboard.
Keeping the injured arm at your side, you can hold your good arm in front of you and still get a great kick workout. Put your face in the water, and take a stroke with your good arm each time you need to breathe. Keep the arm on the side with the rotator cuff injury stable at your side or folded across your abdomen.Used in conjunction with physical therapy, or a home recovery program, you may be able to continue swimming. Crawl stroke and backstroke might be out of the question, but there are other drills you can continue to do with a rotator cuff injury. Start out slow, trying a single lap to find what will work best for you. Since swimming works so may muscle groups, it can still be a part of a healthy fitness program even when recovering from shoulder injuries.
Please consult your doctor before beginning any type of training program.