Swimmer’s shoulder is an overuse injury that affects the tendons, muscles and ligaments in the shoulder. Pain occurs when the connective tissue or tendons in the shoulder rub against the shoulder blade. Inflammation occurs from the repetitive overhead arm motions that are involved in activities such as the freestyle swimming stroke and use of a kickboard. As a swimmer fatigues, the muscles of the rotator cuff become less efficient and the tendon starts to rub against the bone.
Overtraining can lead to this pain if the swimmer continues to swim with fatigues muscles. The muscles have to work harder in a weakened condition and the swimmer has to perform more strokes to cover the same distance, which means muscles are being overused that are already fatigued.
Treatment to reduce pain and inflammation, and physical therapy are the first approach. If the injury has not improved, surgery may be considered.