Understanding and Preventing Common Swimming-Related Injuries

Blogs, / By Shi Qi Yap

Swimming is a popular form of exercise known for its cardiovascular benefits and low impact on the body. However, like all physical activities, swimming is not without its risks. Swimmers of all levels, from beginners to competitive athletes, can experience a range of injuries if proper precautions are not taken. In this blog post, we’ll explore common swimming-related injuries, their causes, and strategies for prevention and treatment.

Common Swimming Injuries

Shoulder Injuries

Swimmer’s shoulder is perhaps the most well-known injury associated with the sport. This condition is a type of impingement syndrome where the shoulder’s tendons get compressed, leading to inflammation and pain. It often results from repetitive overhead motions, such as those in freestyle, butterfly, and backstroke.

Knee Pain

Breaststroke is particularly hard on the knees, leading to a condition commonly referred to as “breaststroker’s knee.” This involves inflammation of the tendons around the knee, particularly the medial collateral ligament (MCL), due to the distinctive kick used in this stroke.

Neck and Lower Back Pain

Swimming requires repetitive neck extension, especially in backstroke and freestyle, which can lead to neck strain and pain. Similarly, the undulating movements of the body during butterfly and breaststroke can put stress on the lower back, leading to pain and discomfort.


Tendonitis can occur in various parts of the body due to repetitive stress and overuse. Common sites for swimmers include the wrists, elbows, and ankles. This condition involves inflammation of the tendons, leading to pain and difficulty in performing specific movements.

Prevention Strategies

Proper Technique

One of the most effective ways to prevent swimming-related injuries is to ensure proper technique. Incorrect form can lead to unnecessary strain on various parts of the body. Working with a qualified coach or instructor can help correct any technical flaws and reduce the risk of injury.

Strength and Flexibility Training

Incorporating strength and flexibility exercises into your routine can help prevent injuries. Strengthening the muscles used in swimming can provide better support and reduce strain on joints. Flexibility exercises, particularly for the shoulders, hips, and ankles, can improve range of motion and reduce the risk of tendonitis and other soft tissue injuries.

Gradual Increase in Intensity

Increasing the intensity or duration of your swimming sessions too quickly can lead to overuse injuries. Gradually building up your swimming routine allows your body to adapt to the demands of the sport, reducing the risk of injury.

Adequate Rest and Recovery

Rest is an essential part of any training regimen. Giving your body time to recover between sessions can help prevent overuse injuries and fatigue. Ensure you get enough sleep, and consider incorporating rest days or lower-intensity activities into your schedule.

Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to any signs of pain or discomfort. Early detection of potential injuries can prevent more severe problems down the line. If you experience persistent pain, it’s important to seek advice from a healthcare professional or a physiotherapist.


In conclusion, while swimming is an excellent form of exercise, it’s important to approach it mindfully to avoid injuries. By paying attention to technique, incorporating strength and flexibility training, and listening to your body, you can enjoy the benefits of swimming while minimizing the risk of injury. Remember, if you’re ever in doubt about an injury or how to prevent it, consult with a healthcare professional or a specialized physiotherapist.

We have posted a short video about “Pre-swim Muscle Activation Technique”. Share it with your friend and raise awareness!

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Yap Shi Qi
Rehab Therapist

Shi Qi graduated with Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Hons), awarded by Anglia Ruskin University, UK. Certified Kinesio Taping Practitioner (CKTP®). She practiced as a physiotherapist in a Malaysian private physiotherapy center with a special interest in musculoskeletal and neurological rehabilitation. Her previous experience inspired her to combine active approach along with patients’ education to optimize the rehabilitation outcome in sports-related injuries and postural pain.

In her spare time, she enjoys swimming, singing, and playing piano.