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How Acupuncture Can Relieve Swimmer’s Shoulder

In this article we’ll discuss swimmer’s shoulder and how acupuncture can help. Let’s get right into it.

What is Swimmer’s Shoulder? 

If you enjoy water sports like diving, water polo, swimming laps, or playing water volleyball, you’re likely familiar with the potential body issues that can arise. Problems like swimmer’s ear and cramping are common, but one especially prevalent and pesky issue is swimmer’s shoulder. This condition mainly affects those who repeatedly move their arms overhead, like swimmers. Though, other people can get it too (like tennis players).  It causes shoulder pain and is sometimes so severe that it hinders further swimming (or participating in any other physical activity.) Because the shoulder has a high range of mobility, it’s prone to overuse injury. Swimmer’s shoulder, also known as shoulder impingement syndrome, involves pain, inflammation, and limited range of motion in the shoulder. It is an absolute pain! But, there’s good news – acupuncture can help. 

In this article, we’ll discuss swimmer’s shoulder in detail and explore how I can help you at Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center. Whether you’re an athlete or an everyday person dealing with overuse-related arm, leg, foot, or neck issues, acupuncture can help with swimmer’s shoulder!

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What are the Symptoms of Swimmer’s Shoulder?

Swimmer’s shoulder doesn’t always strike suddenly; instead, its symptoms gradually emerge, so it’s important to be aware of the signs. Let’s explore these symptoms to help you identify if you might be experiencing this condition.

Persistent Pain: The most apparent indicator is persistent pain, typically located at the front or side of the shoulder. This nagging pain may come on suddenly or develop gradually – though, swimmer’s shoulder is usually something that continues to get worse and worse. Once it starts, it tends to be constant, often presenting as a sharp discomfort aggravated by specific movements, like reaching overhead or during swimming strokes.

Decreased Range of Motion: Individuals with swimmer’s shoulder commonly experience a reduction in shoulder range of motion due to the pain. Performing full-range movements simply becomes too painful. This limitation can affect daily activities and, notably, it can hinder the ability to swim comfortably.

Weakness: A common consequence of swimmer’s shoulder is the weakening of the shoulder muscles, particularly those within the rotator cuff, which directly affects range of motion. Weakness can be approached with a two-pronged method. First, by healing pain and later by rebuilding strength. Read further for my exact technique at Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center. 

Tenderness and Swelling: The affected shoulder may be tender to the touch, and there also may be swelling around the joint. Tenderness and swelling indicate inflammation and stress in the shoulder area. I can use acupuncture to tame swelling. 

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What are the Risk Factors for Swimmer’s Shoulder?

When it comes to issues like limited range of motion and specifically swimmer’s shoulder, there are several factors that contribute to these problems. Let’s break down the four main factors I’ve identified:

  1. Overtraining: Overtraining is a significant risk factor and quite common, not just among athletes but also in everyday individuals. Many clients I see at Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center come in because of overtraining. Swimmers who push themselves too hard or suddenly increase the intensity and duration of their workouts are more likely to be at risk for swimmer’s shoulder.
  2. Poor Technique: Incorrect swimming techniques can cause issues because you may be repeatedly using the wrong muscles. Poor technique becomes an overuse problem, and it can also strain the shoulder by stretching or overburdening muscles not meant for a specific task, stretch, or position. An example of this is improper arm positioning during strokes – of course this contributes to shoulder strain and is a cause of swimmer’s shoulder.
  3. Muscle Imbalance: Muscle imbalance can be a result of different factors – like genetic predispositions, sudden injury/trauma or just gradual development over a lifetime. 
  4. Inadequate Warm-Up: Always prioritize a proper warm-up and cool-down routine. At Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center, I’ll guide you through a graduated movement strategy. This will include not only stretching but also practical exercises to build up the precise parts of your muscles that are compromised. Incorporating these into your daily routine is crucial to avoid overuse injury. Failing to warm up adequately before swimming can make the shoulder more prone to injury (and swimmer’s shoulder).
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How Does Acupuncture Help with Swimmer’s Shoulder?

Let’s discuss some ways I can use acupuncture to help alleviate your swimmer’s shoulder symptoms. When you come in for a session at Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center, I can also provide you with stretching techniques and other daily body movements to support your overall well-being.

Relieve Pain and Discomfort: Acupuncture is a powerful tool for easing your pain, especially if you’re dealing with swimmer’s shoulder. Using thin needles on specific acupuncture points, I’ll stimulate the release of endorphins, which are your body’s natural pain relievers. This not only helps manage pain but also enhances your overall sense of well-being.

Reduce Inflammation: Swimmer’s shoulder often brings inflammation to the shoulder joint. This causes pain and slows down the healing process, which is why swimmer’s shoulder pain is so insidious. Using acupuncture and other hands-on techniques, I can reduce inflammation and swelling by modulating your body’s natural immune response. 

Improve Blood Circulation and Healing: Acupuncture promotes optimal blood circulation, which is absolutely crucial for delivering oxygen and nutrients to injured tissue. This supports your body’s natural healing processes and facilitates the repair of damaged cells and tissues that are linked to swimmer’s shoulder. 

How Can Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center Help?

If you have swimmer’s shoulder there are ways to address your pain using acupuncture. I can help you because Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center gives you world class diagnosis coupled with acupuncture plus cutting-edge hands on treatment to quickly ease your pain. Once your pain levels are down and your range of motion is somewhat restored, I will guide you through a graduated movement strategy so you don’t have to keep coming back for the same issues. We can also discuss proper warm-up techniques and stretches you can do at home before and after physical activity. At Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center, I will piece the parts of your story together using our unique assessment that looks at your body as one. Here is how I do it.

  • Discussion: I will investigate the cause of your problem and explain it in simple terms.
  • Assessment: This will reveal the underlying dysfunction(s) and show why you are suffering from your pain.
  • Treatment: I will ease your symptoms quickly using acupuncture and other hands-on techniques that quickly relieve your pain and improve function.
  • Rehab: I will give you simple movements that you easily can fit into your busy day to improve recovery and give lasting relief. Your graduated movement strategy and pain treatments continue as needed to help you build your confidence in your body again so you can quickly get back to thoughtless, fearless, movement. Through this phase of treatment, I can add to the rehabilitation by focusing on specific things like working on speed, agility, flexibility, or strength.
  • Freedom: I plan to make you so happy that you’ll actively tell your friends and family about us. You see, I have built our clinic on word of mouth referrals and I expect my clients to be so happy with the results that they tell their friends and family about me, so they too can get the help they need.