Objective: The objective of this study is to describe the practice habits, injury frequency, and attitudes and behaviors concerning shoulder pain in high school-aged competitive swimmers and describe the relationship between attitudes and behaviors.
Design: Cross-sectional research design.
Setting: Local swimming clubs.
Participants: One hundred two swimmers, aged 13-18 years, at the top training level of their club team were included in the study.
Assessment of risk factors: Participants were given a survey with questions regarding swimming practice and attitudes and behaviors concerning shoulder pain.
Main outcome measures: Practice habits (yards/week, practice/week, dry-land and weight/week, and months swimming/year) and attitudes and behaviors concerning shoulder pain.
Results: Subjects completed an average of 6.89 ± 1.41 swimming practices/wk of 6000 to 7000 yd/practice. The majority of swimmers believe that mild and moderate shoulder pain is normal in swimming and should be tolerated to complete practice, while a majority responded that they swim with shoulder pain. Seventy-three percent of swimmers reported using pain medication to manage their shoulder pain. There was a significant correlation between attitude and behaviors of moderate and severe shoulder pain.
Conclusions: Club swimmers have a high frequency of practices, comparable to collegiate and professional swimmers. They believe that shoulder pain is normal and should be tolerated to complete practice. The association between the swimmers' attitudes and behaviors indicates that the interventions that educate the swimmers, coaches, and parents may be effective in changing their attitudes and ultimately their behaviors, decreasing the number of athletes who train with shoulder pain.