Balance Your Blades: 3 Corrective Shoulder Exercises

Any good orthopedist or physical therapist knows pain in one part of the body is often caused by dysfunction in another part of the body. The most common area of pain in swimmers is the shoulder rotator cuff.

Swimmer's shoulder is a form of bursitis that develops when a bursa, or fluid sack, located at the shoulder rotator cuff is repeatedly impinged during the swim stroke and becomes inflamed. Repetitive impingement may also cause tendonitis (inflammation) or tendinosis (tissue degeneration) in the tendons of the rotator cuff.

The primary cause of swimmer's shoulder is not the rotator cuff, however; it's the scapula. Commonly known as the shoulder blades, the left and right scapulae are strategically positioned as critical links between the spine and the shoulder rotator cuffs.

Essentially, the scapulae and the 17 muscles around them are the foundation of your shoulders and the base of every arm movement. A healthy shoulder blade must be both stable and mobile. Lack of adequate stability or mobility in the shoulder blade makes the rotator cuff susceptible to impingement during overhead arm movements such as those involved in the freestyle swim stroke.

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