Injury prone swimmer

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    Hello again, I hope everybody’s championship season is going well so far. I have 3 big meets coming up in March, and I have a bit of a training issue. I’m a person that is very prone to hurting myself, in water or on land. If I do 10 Lunges one of my knees will probably be out of commission for a few days. I have problems with my joints overall, especially my ankles, which is why I try to avoid any dryland. Anyway, I’ve really been going at it in practice for the past week or so, in the water for about 3.5 hours every day, and now my shoulder/arm is acting up. It started a few days ago as more of a stiffness, but now its a sharp pain when my right arm pushes water in FR, BK, or BR. It’s not the shoulder itself, but the muscles that run from my chest, down to the front and top of my shoulder, and ending at near my elbow. I’m not sure if that makes any sense medically, but that’s how it feels. This has happened a lot, every time I really start putting the hammer down, for the past few seasons. It’s always fine after a couple of days, but I lose a lot of training time. When I swim singles at the same intensity I’m fine.

    So it seems to me that I just can’t swim 2x a day without constant problems. But how will I achieve my goals if I can only train 1/2 as much as most of my competitors? I’ve tried to find something technically wrong that’s causing it, but it always starts with something different. This time it was BK, last time it was FL…so on and so forth. I don’t do any dryland, so that’s not it. It’s very frustrating.

    Here is how my practices look, to give you more perspective. We don’t train BR, I only do it in warmup.

    A.M. 2.5 hours at most
    10 min dynamic stretching, then 400 warmup, takes about 13 min.
    5×25 FR on 4 min ish, MAX, No Breath. #2 & #5 are from the Block, with a flip. The rest are normal from the pool. On a good day i’m about 11.1s from the pool and 11.8s from the block.
    20×25 on 1, with a turn, with fails. Cuts are 12.21 for FR, 13.11 for BK, 13.71 for FL.
    10×50 on 2, different stroke than the 25s on 1, with fails. Cuts are 26.14 for FR, 28.64 for BK, and 28.11 for FL.

    P.M. usually 1 hour. We added in these sets earlier this winter, we used to do more long rest ones.
    Stretching and same 400 warmup.
    20×25 on :15 rest, with fails. 12.40 for FR, 13.22 for BK, 13.33 for FL.
    10×50 on :20 rest, with fails, different stroke than the 25s. 27.98 for FR, 30.08 for BK, 29.90 for FL.

    All of the cuts are taken from the last time I made the whole set with less than 3 fails, we adjust the times so that I shouldn’t be able to make it next time.

    I don’t get in much yardage, avg is about 3000, but I am in the water for quite a while. So if I can’t train more than once a day, I would have to drop the short rest sets. If I alternated long and short by day I won’t get in enough underwater work, I learned that last LCM season. Maybe I should swim twice but just do technique stuff at night? I don’t know, I’m just really worried I won’t be as fast as I want to be if I can’t do doubles. Any ideas on how to figure this out?

    Sorry I bombard you guys with all my problems, I really appreciate all the help you’ve given me 🙂
    Thank You, Liv.


    I forgot to mention that these practices are Mon-Fri, + just the A.M. sets on Sat.


    This may be biceps “stringing”. The more stress you induce the more the muscles tighten during recovery periods. Since swimming involves no eccentric contractions the muscle will shorten during hard training periods and tighten which will lead to soreness.

    describe your “dynamic stretching”. Be specific.

    Start with slower work (50’s @ 200 pace) first then move into faster sets. Do sprint work every other day.

    Gold-level USRPT Coach



    I’m not sure if what I do is “real” dynamic stretching, it’s mostly just a lot of swinging my limbs around. Whatever it is, I always feel better after I do it.

    I always do the legs first, right after I get my cap and goggles situated.
    10x Swings, first R leg forward and back, then L, then R leg going right to left, then L leg left to right, 40 swings total.
    While standing on one leg, I do some ankle rolls, clockwise then counter clockwise.
    Finally, also while on one leg, I’ll hold the other leg out in front of me at a 90 degree ankle, with the knee also bent at 90 degrees, and then kick the lower half of my leg back, as if trying to kick the back of my thigh. I do this 4 times per leg. This helps loosen up my always tight thighs.

    8x Michael Phelps swings
    4x Backstroke arms, 4 R, 4 L, then 4 double.
    8x swings where I start with my arm by my side, then I bring it straight up and then bend at the elbow to bring my hand down to touch my opposite shoulder.
    4 more MP swings, and then I get in for warmup, which is~

    100 FR cruise, 4×25 IM order Hard, 3×25 with a 8 stroke sprint breakout, 1×25 easy, then 2 starts, not with any dolphin kicks or anything, just getting off the block and gliding.


    Avoid the arm swings for a while. Here’s an explanation of how to strengthen swimming muscles while improving range-of-motion:

    Some full range push ups will activate the muscle and should have a loosening effect as well.

    For your knees and ankles, do some slow controlled squats (2-legs). This should stretch the quad and ankle muscles while activating them. If the lunges are exacerbating your knee instability then avoid single leg exercises.



    It’s been about 4 months now since I asked for advice with my shoulder/arm pain. I’ve had to change a lot of my training lately, but I can happily say that I haven’t had any “issues” since I started doing the warmup you suggested. Thank You.

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