Summer water sports may increase risk of shoulder pain

July 5, 2012

Topic: Shoulder pain

Rafting and other water sports may increase the risk of shoulder pain.

As the summer weather spreads warmth across the country, activities on or near the water become more popular. These may include swimming, surfing, kayaking, rafting or beach volleyball. According to one orthopaedic specialist, all of these sports may increase the risk of shoulder pain.

"The repetitive nature of swimming and paddling out in surfing requires an overhead motion of the shoulder, with power and force being applied when the shoulder is the most vulnerable," said specialist Peter Reynolds.

Impingement syndrome may occur as a result of force being applied to the arm as it moves overhead, causing the bursa and rotator cuff tendon to push against part of the shoulder blade. This mechanism may wring blood out of the tendon, or pinch the tendon against the bone, according to Reynolds.

Such overuse injuries can happen when too much force is applied too quickly to the shoulder.

Proper athletic technique may help prevent these problems. For example, swimmers should focus on using there latissimus dorsi muscles rather than their shoulders. Furthermore, any athlete who experiences shoulder pain should address the problem early. This may involve rest, medication or special exercises prescribed by a doctor or physical therapist.

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