Swimming shoulder injury: contribution from the hips

“Unloading” the shoulder with a good kick can be very important in healing a sore shoulder.

The latissimus dorsi muscle is a huge muscle providing a power-link to the hips. As it contracts, the latissimus generates large forces on the shoulder joint, but it also communicates its pull into the gluteal muscles through an elastic fascia, and vise-versa. A lack of efficient gluteus maximus muscle kicking decreases the physiological efficiency of the lat muscles to contribute to the pull.

I’m not a technique coach. However,technique and physical preparedness for the technique can be overlapping issues.

What I’m looking at is the range of motion, strength and control that a hip has to enable a good technique. These factors are very frequently less than ideal in the general population, but also deficient in athletes.

I look at adequate hip extension, adequate gluteal and abdominal strength, as well as adequate ankle range of motion. Focusing on developing these aspects during a recovery from swimming related shoulder injury can actually be the primary treatment for swimmers shoulder.

I don’t forget muscle endurance either. A decent technique flies out the window with fatigue. Rotator cuff and rhomboid muscles are frequently prone to late-session fatigue.

And a tip for those going into kicking drills to rest the shoulder: keep the affected arm by your sides or folded across the chest - having it kept in sustained reach position during kicking drills simply keeps the shoulder aggravated.

Matthew Fourro