Musculoskeletal injuries in competitive swimmers

Mayo Clin Proc. 1987 Apr;62(4):289-304. doi: 10.1016/s0025-6196(12)61906-5.


Competitive swimming is a rigorous sport being engaged in by an increasing number of young athletes. In swimmers, shoulder pain is the most common musculoskeletal complaint and is usually due to supraspinatus or biceps tendinitis. Glenohumeral instability (often multidirectional) can also be a cause of shoulder pain in swimmers and may be more common than has been reported. Surgical treatment is seldom indicated. Physical therapy modalities and training modifications are the mainstay of treatment. Medial knee pain in breaststroke swimmers and extensor tendon inflammation over the dorsum of the foot are less common injuries and respond to conservative therapy. These overuse syndromes are best prevented by proper training schedules, strength training, flexibility exercises, and avoidance of errors in stroke technique. The rehabilitation program for a competitive swimmer should be chosen with an understanding of the goals of the swimmer and the cooperation of the coach.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / etiology*
  • Athletic Injuries / therapy
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal System / injuries*
  • Swimming*