Shoulder Injuries Shoulder injuries are very common in swimming and water polo. The shoulder is the most movable joint and has the most range of motion. It is able to move in all different planes which all these factors contribute to the joint being more susceptible to injury. With this it is even more apparent that precautious measurements be taken to decrease the likely hood of an injury. The first step is stretching. Stretching the shoulder before and after practice helps to keep the surrounding muscles loose. When muscles tighten up they move the shoulder into a position that is more susceptible to wear and tear. The most important muscle to stretch is the pectoral, or your chest muscle. When this muscle gets too tight, your shoulders round forward which can cause impingement syndrome which we will discuss later. Next the bicep muscle should be stretched as this also can contribute to impingement. Some examples of the stretches are: 1) Doorway stretch- put both arms in 90 degrees or bent elbows with hands up and place one arm on one side of the doorway and the other on the other side of the doorway. Next lean forward by pushing your chest out till you feel a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3X(this can also be done one arm at a time) 2) Grabbing the doorway or a wall with one hand at shoulder height and arm fully extend, rotate the body so your shoulder and arm are going backwards hold 30 seconds repeat 3X 3) Grabbing the door or wall, place one hand on at shoulder height and extend your arm. Rotate your body in so your arm is stretched across your chest hold 30 seconds and repeat 3X 4) Place an arm above your head and bend at the elbow. Hold your elbow and push down towards your back. Hold 30 seconds and repeat 3X After workout, another precautionary measure is to ice any muscle soreness. Heat should not be used as this can make any swelling worse. Ice for 20 minutes immediately following workout to decrease any swelling. If you are susceptible to soreness, this should be routine after every workout no exceptions. *Stretching should not be done after icing as this can tear your muscle. Stretch first than ice. The most common shoulder injury is impingement. Impingement is because there are three tendons that go right under your AC joint that already have a tight fit. Any swelling of these tendons causes pain. Poor posture, injury, tight muscles and overuse cause impingement. Three of the four ways are preventable. With both the primary response is to ice first. Depending on the amount of pain, anti-inflammatory medicine can also be taken to reduce the swelling. Advil and Motrin are over the counter medicines that can be taken as long as you follow the recommended dosage unless a doctor prescribes otherwise. Whenever you start a season, muscle soreness is very common and should not be confused with an injury. What to do if your shoulder hurts: 1) Tell your coach 2) Stretch and ice after practice 3) If after a week or two you are still experiencing an increase in pain, key word increase, you need to see a doctor 4) You should not be altering your workouts at all at this point, some muscle soreness goes away so that’s why it takes about two weeks to determine if it is muscle soreness or an injury. 5) A doctor will give more of a complete diagnose but a word of caution, if an injury is detected and sometimes there isn’t one, the doctor will prescribe rest. Depending on the athlete, most can make it through a season and rest at the end of the season. With any pain a coach should be notified. We don’t know there is anything going on unless you tell us. Communication is key. We are trained as coaches to deal with injuries and determine the extent. There is also a place and a time to inform us, usually at the beginning or end of practice, and NOT IN THE MIDDLE OF A SET OR DRILL.