Treatment for Swimming injuries

Sports Injury Specialists

The Capital Orthopaedics team is made up of highly experienced sports medicine professionals. Led by renowned orthopaedic surgeon Mr Simon Moyes, our consultant surgeons, radiologists and physiotherapists offer in-depth diagnoses and minimally invasive treatments.

With decades of expertise in treating athletes and professional sportspeople, we know how to get you back to your activity in the quickest time possible, with increased resilience against future injury.

To book an appointment with a Sports Medicine Specialist in London, contact us here.

Treatment for Swimming Injuries

Swimming injuries almost always overuse injuries – often due to poor technique or overtraining.

Around 90 per cent of all swimming injuries are in the shoulders, but swimming can also cause neck, back and knee pain.

Our sports injury clinic is dedicated to getting active and professional sportspeople back to fitness quickly, with minimal intervention and with resilience against future injury.

Swimming Injuries We Treat

Shoulder pain as a result of the constant rotation in your shoulder is known as ‘swimmer’s shoulder’. Common swimming shoulder injuries include osteoarthritis, shoulder impingement, bursitis, shoulder instability and rotator cuff injuries.

Shoulder impingement

Repetitive rotation can cause the muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff to become inflamed and weaken, creating pressure in the surrounding tissues (impingement). This leads to inflammation and symptoms of pain, reduced range of motion, a feeling of looseness in the joint and reduced strength.


Rest and anti-inflammatories, followed by physiotherapy and swimming technique training to improve the motion of your shoulder are often effective treatments. We also offer shockwave therapy, steroid and cellular injections to reduce inflammation and stimulate healing.

Shoulder instability

Weakened ligaments and rotator cuff muscles can result in a feeling of instability in your shoulder, weakness and pain. Too much laxity in the shoulder can lead to other conditions such as arthritis, labral tear or bursitis (inflammation of the gel-filled sac in the joint).


Shoulder instability can be treated non surgically with physiotherapy to help build up the muscles. Any secondary inflammation can be managed with anti inflammatories or steroid injections. In some cases, such as a labral tear (tear in the cartilage lining the ‘socket’ of your joint), rotator cuff tear or arthritis, keyhole surgery may be necessary.

Rotator cuff tendinopathy

The rotator cuff is a tube of muscles and tendons that stabilises and mobilises the ‘ball and socket’ part of your shoulder joint. The tendons can get inflamed due to tiny tears that form as a result of repetitive actions.

It is common in swimmers who train regularly. Symptoms include swelling and tenderness in the front of your shoulder, clicking as you raise your arms overhead, joint stiffness and loss of range of motion, loss of strength.


Rest, anti-inflammatories and physiotherapy to help stretch and build strength in the shoulder. We may also offer steroid injections to help reduce inflammation and improve movement. It usually takes 2-4 weeks to recover, although more severe tendinopathy may take a few months to fully heal.

Breaststroke Knee (MCL injury)

The propulsive kicking action of breaststroke puts a great deal of stress on the Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL), which runs on the inner side of your knee joint. With the repeated kicking, twisting action of breaststroke, the ligament can get stretched, causing swelling, weakness and pain around the joint. It can also lead to compression in the joint, causing inflammation in soft tissues.


Minor cases can be treated with rest, anti-inflammatories and physiotherapy, along with injection therapies to stimulate healing in the damaged ligament. If the MCL is severely damaged or torn, surgery may be needed to repair the ligament.

Swimmer’s Back

Pain in your lower back (lumbar spine) can be caused by the undulating motion of butterfly or breaststroke. It can be caused by tight hip flexor or adductor muscles, which reduce your body’s roll in front-crawl, forcing your lumbar region to compensate by rotating more. Swimmer’s back pain can include conditions and injuries such as muscle strain, ligament sprain or spondylolysis (stress fracture in the vertebrae).


Diagnosis is key for swimmer’s back pain. Many conditions can be treated with rest, anti-inflammatories and physiotherapy, followed by targeted training to improve your swimming technique. Some lower back injuries may require more intervention, such as steroid injections or surgery.

Swimmers Neck (thoracic outlet syndrome)

Keeping your head above water in breaststroke or rotating it during crawl are likely to put stress on the muscles and ligaments of your spine. Arthritis in the bones of your neck can also lead to neck pain when swimming. Rotating your neck with poor form can also lead to thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), which is the compression of blood vessels and nerves where the base of the neck meets your collarbone. TOS can lead to weakness in your hand, pain in your neck, shoulder or hand and a numbness or tingling in your hand.


With early diagnosis, most swimmer’s neck conditions can be treated with physiotherapy and technique training to prevent re-injury.

Anti inflammatories and steroid injections may be helpful in reducing inflammation and reducing stiffness. In some cases, such as advanced thoracic outlet syndrome, arthritis or disc degeneration, surgery may be necessary to reduce pressure and improve range of motion.

Patello-femoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS)

More commonly known as ‘runner’s knee’, PFPS is caused by stress on the patellar tendon that connects the kneecap (patella) to the thigh bone (femur). In competitive swimmers, knee pain is the result of a repeated kicking action. Symptoms include pain in front of your knee, and behind or in front of your knee cap.


The pain of Patello-femoral Pain Syndrome can be generalised and there may be more than one cause, so a careful diagnosis is key. Maybe of the causes of PFPS can be resolved with rest and physiotherapy to build strength around the knee and improve flexibility. Massage and injection therapies may also help with rehabilitation.

Other Sports Related Injuries We Treat

The Capital Orthopaedics team is highly experienced in diagnosing and treating sports-related injuries in professional athletes and recreational sportspeople alike. Our dedication to getting the pros back to full strength and fitness in the quickest time possible crosses over to all of our patients.

Common sports conditions include:

How Capital Orthopaedics Can Help Treat Your Swimming Injuries

Based in three central London locations, we offer state-of-the-art diagnostics, dedicated physiotherapy studios and top orthopaedic surgeons to ensure you get the best treatment for your sports injury.

Our experienced sports medicine team is focussed on you back to your sport quickly, with resilience against further injury.


Book an Appointment with an Orthopaedic Specialist

The Capital Orthopaedics team is made up of highly experienced medical professionals – from Mr Simon Moyes, the renowned orthopaedic consultant surgeon, to physicians, nurses, anaesthetists and physiotherapists.
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