How to Prevent Shoulder Injuries in Swimming

Photo of author

Swimming is a low-impact exercise that offers numerous benefits, but it can also put strain on the shoulders if proper technique and form are not maintained. Common mistakes in swimming can lead to shoulder injuries and impede progress in the water. In this article, we will discuss the most common mistakes swimmers make that can negatively impact shoulder health and how to avoid them.

swimmer doing a backstroke with correct shoulder technique

Poor Body Position

Maintaining proper body position is crucial for efficient swimming and shoulder health. Common mistakes related to body position include:

  1. Lifting the Head: Lifting the head excessively during swimming can cause the hips and legs to sink, creating drag and increasing strain on the shoulders. Keep your head aligned with your spine and look straight ahead.
  2. Sinking Hips: Allowing the hips to sink creates drag and puts strain on the shoulders. Engage your core muscles to maintain a horizontal body position and reduce resistance.
  3. Scissor Kick: A scissor kick, where the legs move in a wide, scissor-like motion, can disrupt body position and increase strain on the shoulders. Use a gentle and consistent leg kick to maintain a stable body position.

Overreaching and Overreaching

Overreaching and overreaching are common mistakes that can lead to shoulder injuries. These mistakes are often seen in freestyle and butterfly strokes:

  1. Overreaching: Overreaching occurs when the arm reaches too far forward during the entry phase of the stroke. This can strain the shoulder joint and lead to injuries. Focus on a relaxed and fluid arm motion, avoiding excessive reach.
  2. Overreaching: Overreaching happens when the arm pulls back too forcefully or excessively during the pull phase of the stroke. This can cause unnecessary strain on the shoulder muscles and joints. Aim for a smooth and controlled arm movement without excessive force.

Incorrect Breathing Technique

Breathing plays a significant role in swimming and can impact shoulder health if done incorrectly. Common mistakes related to breathing technique include:

  1. Late Breathing: Breathing late, meaning waiting too long to take a breath, can disrupt the natural flow of the stroke and cause unnecessary strain on the shoulders. Coordinate your breathing with your stroke cycle, ensuring you have enough time to inhale.
  2. Holding the Breath: Holding your breath while swimming creates tension throughout the body and can lead to inefficient movement patterns. Exhale continuously and forcefully through your nose and mouth while your face is submerged in the water.

Lack of Warm-up and Cool-down

Neglecting warm-up and cool-down exercises is a common mistake that can increase the risk of shoulder injuries. Skipping these important steps can lead to muscle imbalances, reduced flexibility, and inadequate blood flow to the muscles. Always include a proper warm-up and cool-down routine that incorporates dynamic stretches and light swimming to prepare your body for the workout and aid in recovery.

Overtraining and Lack of Rest

Overtraining and not allowing sufficient rest and recovery time is a common mistake that can lead to shoulder injuries and overall fatigue. Swimming is a physically demanding activity that requires periods of rest to allow the muscles, joints, and connective tissues to recover. Avoid overtraining by incorporating rest days into your training plan and listening to your body’s signals of fatigue and discomfort.


Avoiding common mistakes in swimming is vital for protecting your shoulders and enjoying a healthy and injury-free swimming experience. By maintaining proper body position, avoiding overreaching, practicing correct breathing techniques, and incorporating warm-up and cool-down exercises, you can minimize the risk of shoulder injuries and swim more efficiently. Remember to listen to your body, incorporate rest days into your training routine, and seek guidance from a qualified swimming coach or professional if needed. By swimming with proper technique and avoiding common mistakes, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable swimming journey.