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How can ART Improve My Swimming?

Repetitive Motion and Shoulder Injuries


The soft tissue stresses caused by the repetitive motions of freestyle swimming are often compounded in triathletes by the constant stress of holding the torso in fixed position upon the bicycle’s aero-bars.

Pain between the shoulder blades is caused by the constant neck extension and the back position required to support the weight of the cyclist’s torso while bent over in the aero-bar position. This pain is often an indication of several problems in the body’s kinetic chain rather than the usual diagnosis of tight Rhomboid muscles or a Rotator Cuff Tear.

Repetitive motion, constant tension, and pressure often result in inflammation and swelling of soft tissue. The body responds to this inflammation by laying down scar tissue (cross fibers across the tissue) in an attempt to stabilize the affected area. This scar tissue:

  • Restricts motion.
  • Reduces circulation.
  • Inhibits nerve function.
  • Causes ongoing friction and pressure. Results in the production of yet more cross fibers and adhesions across inflamed soft tissues.

Training Techniques and Shoulder Injuries

Poor swim technique, over-training, unilateral breathing, too large a swim paddle, or improper elbow to shoulder angle on the bike can easily cause shoulder problems. Each of these physical factors can result in the creation of biomechanical restrictions within the shoulder muscles.

Even though these training factors can be modified, the biomechanical restrictions that have been created in the triathelete’s body are seldom addressed or resolved by exercise and massage. These stresses lead to future injuries and inhibits the triathlete and swimmer from reaching his or her full performance potential.

Muscles affected by Shoulder Injuries

Equally important, different athletes may present with identical pain patterns, but each athlete may have completely different structures that are impaired or injured.

Before treatment takes place, an extremely specific examination and diagnosis must be performed. It is important to look past the initial point of pain to identify other structures that are involved in the kinetic chain.

For example, triatheletes using aero-bars commonly have restrictions at the Serratus Posterior Superior and at a very deep muscle called the Transversospinalis. Both these muscles affect the swimmer!

See the following topics for more information about ART and Swimming:

Download an information brochure for Swimming!

  • Swimmers Shoulder – The cause of swimmers shoulder, and how ART can quickly resolve long-standing problems, and increase swimming performance.
  • Improve Your Athletic Performance with Active Release Techniques – How ART was used at the Ironman Triathlon Championships in Penticton and Kona, Hawaii to help resolve athletic injuries, improve performance, and assist athletes in completing these tremendously difficult events.