Context: Shoulder injuries are common in swimmers because of the demands of the sport. Muscle imbalances frequently exist due to the biomechanics of the sport, which predispose swimmers to injury. To date, an effective shoulder-injury-prevention program for competitive swimmers has not been established.
Objective: To assess the effectiveness of a 6-wk strengthening and stretching intervention program on improving glenohumeral and scapular muscle strength and scapular kinematics in collegiate swimmers.
Design: Randomized control trial.
Setting: University biomechanics research laboratory.
Participants: Forty-four Division I collegiate swimmers.
Interventions: The intervention program was completed 3 times per week for 6 wk. The program included strengthening exercises completed using resistance tubing-scapular retraction (Ts), scapular retraction with upward rotation (Ys), scapular retraction with downward rotation (Ws), shoulder flexion, low rows, throwing acceleration and deceleration, scapular punches, shoulder internal rotation at 90° abduction, and external rotation at 90° abduction-and 2 stretching exercises: corner stretch and sleeper stretch.
Main outcome measurements: Scapular kinematics and glenohumeral and scapular muscle strength assessed preintervention and postintervention.
Results: There were no significant between-groups differences in strength variables at pre/post tests, although shoulder-extension and internal-rotation strength significantly increased in all subjects regardless of group assignment. Scapular kinematic data revealed increased scapular internal rotation, protraction, and elevation in all subjects at posttesting but no significant effect of group on the individual kinematic variables.
Conclusions: The current strengthening and stretching program was not effective in altering strength and scapular kinematic variables but may serve as a framework for future programs. Adding more stretching exercises, eliminating exercises that overlap with weight-room training and swim training, and timing of implementation may yield a more beneficial program for collegiate swimmers.