Swimming with a Reconstructed Shoulder

author : Tri Swim Coach
comments : 0

Member Question

"I've had shoulder reconstruction following 26 years of military service and I now have a limited range of motion making freestyle all but impossible for any distance. Therefore, I've been concentrating on breaststroke as I've done 1.2miles in 46 minutes using this technique. What would you recommend to assist me in my swimming, either to increase my speed using the breaststroke, or an alternate or augmenting style?"

Answer from Kevin Koskella
TriSwimCoach.com

Wow, sorry to hear about your limited range of motion in your shoulder. 46 minutes for a 1.2k swim is not bad!

Not knowing exactly what condition your shoulder is in currently, and not being a trained medical professional, I'll do my best on what I think would work best for your triathlon swim training. I'll start with the post-rehab shoulder exercises. You may already be doing some of these, but it's important to go over what we are familiar with that can possibly help your condition.

1. Elastic tubing will be something to use to improve rotator cuff strength. You can start with the most elastic tubing and just do 1-2 sets of 10-20 reps. Hold the tubing perpendicular to your body, keeping your elbow bent at 90 degrees, then moving your arm away from the wall (or whatever the tubing is attached to), for one set. Then, switch so that you are moving towards the wall (opposite direction).

2. Swiss ball exercises. Lie on the ball and move your arms directly out to the side so your body forms a T. Hold your arms at 90 degrees. Hold your arms at 90 degrees with dumbbells hanging perpendicular to the ground, then rotate up 90 degrees so that they are parallel with your body. You can start with no weight and then add in light dumbbells.

3. To work on breaststroke: leg strength will be your key. Squats will be a good exercise to improve leg strength, also lat pulldowns and bench press.

4. One-arm freestyle. Since it sounds like you are currently pretty much unable to use your injured arm, it's a good idea to practice your one-arm freestyle.

5. Form. When you are able, it will be important to really focus on proper form to avoid becoming injured again. There are two things here that will be crucial: head position and high elbow catch. Make sure that as you are swimming and rotating your hips, that your head stays still (except when you rotate for a breath). Make sure you are extending your arm out in front, bending your elbow, then pulling back. Doing these to things will assure that you avoid crossing over and putting unnecessary pressure on your rotator cuff.

6. Yoga. Lastly, in general, incorporating yoga should help with your shoulder, breaststroke, and freestyle. There are some great exercises you can do at home for stabilization and strengthening the specific muscles around your shoulder that will help with the movements you need to make in freestyle swimming on this page.  It may take some time to get stronger, but there are people who have come back from reconstructive surgery to swim pretty fast times. Here's a guy who came back from reconstructive shoulder surgery and became the first person over 40 to break the 2-minute mark in the 200 meter freestyle.

Good luck with everything, take it slow and keep up the good work you've done so far!

HAVE A QUESTION?

Become a Performance member and ask your question here

Rating

Click on star to vote
8908 Total Views  |  126 Views last 30 days  |  32 Views last 7 days
date: January 19, 2012

Author


Tri Swim Coach

I'm at http://www.TriSwimCoach.com,a resource for beginning through intermediate level triathletes looking for help with swimming. The site features a free email newsletter offering tips and articles on triathlon swimming. I have also written an electronic book titled “The Complete Guide to Triathlon Swimming” and created "The Essential Triathlon Swimming DVD", both available on www.triswimcoach.com.

For a 20% DISCOUNT on Zoomers Z2 fins and Freestyler paddles, go to www.finisinc.com and use discount code ‘aggies20’ at checkout!

Author

avatarTri Swim Coach

I'm at http://www.TriSwimCoach.com,a resource for beginning through intermediate level triathletes looking for help with swimming. The site features a free email newsletter offering tips and articles on triathlon swimming. I have also written an electronic book titled “The Complete Guide to Triathlon Swimming” and created "The Essential Triathlon Swimming DVD", both available on www.triswimcoach.com.

For a 20% DISCOUNT on Zoomers Z2 fins and Freestyler paddles, go to www.finisinc.com and use discount code ‘aggies20’ at checkout!

View all 98 articles