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immunizer


Aug 9, 2011, 1:02 AM
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Swimming strokes to help injured shoulders
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Hi folks.

I went through a bout of subacromial bursitis starting sometime around December. I was setting bouldering routes on a little wall and hitting it hard (for me) two to four hours a day most days - with no cross training to balance my shoulders. I'm getting too old to abuse my body, it appears, and so my body complained. I had to quit climbing for six months and even now my shoulders are still not thrilled with their lot in life.

I'm just getting started climbing again. I still have a fair amount of strength and most of my technique, but I'm worried about re-injury. I spend probably 10 hours a week on endurance or cardio stuff, running 10-15 miles and cycling 100+ (including my commute); the only thing keeping me from being a triathlete is swimming. I'm trying to be diligent with pushups and resistance bands and internal/external rotations and all that boring shit, but it's precisely that: boring. I hate doing it and I get nothing like the enjoyment I get after a good run or long bike ride.

So...

What are your thoughts (informed ones, please!) on swimming to strengthen injured shoulders and help balance musculature that's become unbalanced due to years of climbing and computer use? The bursitis was brought on by repeatedly reaching directly overhead, so freestyle/crawl seems to be out of the question. I doubt I'd be any good at the butterfly, so I'm thinking breast stroke. Google turns up a bunch of ambiguous drivel which in no way answers my core question about specific differences in muscle activation between the various strokes, so I thought I might ask here. Keep in mind I'm not asking about whether swimming will make me a stronger climber, only whether swimming will help me remain a healthy climber. And yes, I know the breast stroke won't win me any triathlons. That's not my primary concern, either.

Thanks for all of your thoughts and advice. I once had a goal of climbing 5.13. If I can stay healthy, I might still reach it!


Jnclk


Aug 9, 2011, 3:58 AM
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Re: [immunizer] Swimming strokes to help injured shoulders [In reply to]
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I can't comment on swimming as therapy. However, there is a hell of alot more you can be doing than pushups and internal/external rotation for shoulder problems. If you want healthy shoulders you don't try to be diligent, you are diligent. The exercises work, but you still have to listen to your body. Bouldering 2-4 hours most days with no rest is a great way to develop a myriad of overuse injuries. Find a PT (or a different one if you already have and aren't happy) and develop a series of routines to keep things fresh. There are over 20 exercises I rotate through.


ghisino


Aug 9, 2011, 7:34 AM
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Re: [immunizer] Swimming strokes to help injured shoulders [In reply to]
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subacromial bursitis sounds like another name for shoulder conflict, problems with your superspinatus, etc?

if that is the case, stay away from swimming.

I have a tendency for that kind of shoulder issue on both sides, and any swimming style (apart from back stroke maybe) makes it worse.
I can swim, but i have to double the amount of shoulder-specific exercises i do.

On top of that, during the most acute phase my physio explicitly prohibited swimming.

and swimmers do have overuse shoulder issues as well.

in breast stroke you wouldn't reach over your head, but you would "fold" yourself over the water which is probably reinforcing the "gorilla" posture which iis one of the causes of shoulder problems in climbers.



what makes the deal from me, keeping me away from getting back into it, is :

-regular external rotator exercises (theraband). NO internal.
-regular stretching of my pecs and biceps
-change of sleeping habits (never sleeping on my side)
-weights (pick up any complex of dumbell exercises designed to keep lifter's shoulders healty. Easy to find on youtube)
-rowing machine (emphasis on pulling with my shoulders and back)
-simple posture tricks (never walk with the palms of your hands facing behind you...)


damienclimber


Aug 9, 2011, 4:04 PM
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Registered: Jul 13, 2011
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Re: [immunizer] Swimming strokes to help injured shoulders [In reply to]
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immunizer wrote:
Hi folks.

I went through a bout of subacromial bursitis starting sometime around December. I was setting bouldering routes on a little wall and hitting it hard (for me) two to four hours a day most days - with no cross training to balance my shoulders. I'm getting too old to abuse my body, it appears, and so my body complained. I had to quit climbing for six months and even now my shoulders are still not thrilled with their lot in life.

I'm just getting started climbing again. I still have a fair amount of strength and most of my technique, but I'm worried about re-injury. I spend probably 10 hours a week on endurance or cardio stuff, running 10-15 miles and cycling 100+ (including my commute); the only thing keeping me from being a triathlete is swimming. I'm trying to be diligent with pushups and resistance bands and internal/external rotations and all that boring shit, but it's precisely that: boring. I hate doing it and I get nothing like the enjoyment I get after a good run or long bike ride.

So...

What are your thoughts (informed ones, please!) on swimming to strengthen injured shoulders and help balance musculature that's become unbalanced due to years of climbing and computer use? The bursitis was brought on by repeatedly reaching directly overhead, so freestyle/crawl seems to be out of the question. I doubt I'd be any good at the butterfly, so I'm thinking breast stroke. Google turns up a bunch of ambiguous drivel which in no way answers my core question about specific differences in muscle activation between the various strokes, so I thought I might ask here. Keep in mind I'm not asking about whether swimming will make me a stronger climber, only whether swimming will help me remain a healthy climber. And yes, I know the breast stroke won't win me any triathlons. That's not my primary concern, either.

Thanks for all of your thoughts and advice. I once had a goal of climbing 5.13. If I can stay healthy, I might still reach it!

Your workout is impressive!
go to some sports medicine specialist for advice


mr.tastycakes


Aug 10, 2011, 5:52 AM
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Re: [immunizer] Swimming strokes to help injured shoulders [In reply to]
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I don't know if swimming would help your shoulder problems, but it would certainly move you further along the road to tri-dorkdom. I advise against it for that reason alone. Next thing you know, you'll be showing up to group rides with sleeveless jerseys. Wink


Tab5crux


Aug 12, 2011, 9:59 AM
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Re: [immunizer] Swimming strokes to help injured shoulders [In reply to]
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Swimming, like climbing, will only be beneficial when done properly. This is coming from 12 years of competitive swimming experience. After two years of competing in college my shoulders started to give out (being a sprinter) . However since then I have competed in a few triathlons as well as continue to swim for exercise. I have also been climbing for over a year now. With that background here's a few suggestions if you want to use swimming as a vehicle for shoulder strength:

1) Stick to low intensity workout (no matter what type of strokes you use it will put strain on your shoulders). At this level swimming will provide similar benefit as active stretching and may help loosen your subacromial muscles. It also helps keep you from over straining especially with prior shoulder injury. It is also a great way to work out residual stiffness and get blood flowing through the entire body.

2) Develop good technique. This will keep you from awkward movement and improve efficiency in the water.

3) Listen to your body. Although I think that swimming is one of the best exercise to maintain health, if you overwork your tendons it will not do you any good.


ts83


Aug 12, 2011, 10:23 AM
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Registered: May 6, 2007
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Re: [immunizer] Swimming strokes to help injured shoulders [In reply to]
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I agree with the posters above. I was a competitive swimmer for almost twenty years, and coached for seven. In that time, I've seen swimming damage enough shoulders to force dozens of people into therapy.

Swimming's an awesome exercise, but it's not a replacement for meeting with a PT to address your specific muscular imbalances. It's possible that swimming could make your shoulders worse.


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