Injury & Medical Advice of Artistic Swimming

Swimming is often recommended as a low-impact exercise to benefit those with recurring health and joint issues. However, given over demanding workouts or incorrect technique, swimming injuries can still occur, potentially creating further health complications for participants.

Swimmer’s Shoulder

Swimmer’s shoulder is the most common swimming injuries. It can be caused by bad technique, excessive workload, or the improper use of swim paddles and pull buoys. Unbalanced strength and flexibility in the muscles can also lead to swimmer’s shoulder, as well as overzealous stretching.

Swimmer’s Knee

Also known as breaststroke knee, swimmer’s knee is an injury incurred during the mechanics of the breaststroke kick. The extension and propulsion of the kick subject the knee to external rotation, which goes against the knee’s structural design and stresses the inner ligament of the knee (medial collateral ligament or MCL).

Neck Injuries

Neck Injuries are most often the result of incorrect technique. Swimmers who do not keep their heads in line with the spine or who over-rotate their heads are most at risk. In addition, swimmers who increase their distances too much too soon does not allow anterior neck muscles adequate time to adapt and grow stronger.

Lower Back Injuries

Lower back swimming injuries are also often due to incorrect technique. Swimming with a high head position and/or sinking hips and legs causes the back to overarching to compensate. Lifting the upper body out of the water with the back instead of the overall body wave motion puts undue stress on the back muscles and ligaments.


Concussions are often discussed as leading competitive swimming injuries, but all swimmers should be aware of the risk of concussions while practicing the sport. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that occurs due to impact. The impact can be directly to the head, but it can also occur elsewhere and cause sufficient jarring to the brain. These injuries can occur through impact with a pool wall or with another swimmer, or from falling on the deck. Synchronized swimmers have a particularly high rate of concussion occurrence; however, it is important for all athletes, coaches, and family members to be informed and proactive when it comes to swimming concussions.

How To Prevent Common Swimming Injuries

  • Stay hydrated! Just because you’re in the water doesn’t mean you don’t need to drink some, too.
  • Eat plenty of protein, produce, calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium in your diet for health and sustained activity.
  • Work with an athletic trainer or other sports medicine professional to incorporate proper strength training techniques for the lower back, shoulders, hamstrings, quadriceps, and neck.
  • Be aware of your surroundings both in and out of the water. Allow plenty of space between yourself and other swimmers.
  • Warm up and cool down muscles with appropriate stretching and light aerobic exercises before and after every practice and meet.
  • Alternate swimming strokes regularly to avoid overstressing any one muscle group.
  • Reporting all injuries or pain at once. Do not swim through the pain!
  • Prioritize proper rest. All athletes should take 1-2 days a week and 1-2 months a year away from their sports to prevent burnout and overuse injuries.