The effect of exercise therapy interventions on shoulder pain and musculoskeletal risk factors for shoulder pain in competitive swimmers: a scoping review.

Review written by Jared Powell info

Key Points

  1. An exercise program can reduce the incidence of shoulder injuries in competitive swimmers.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

Unsurprisingly, the shoulder is the most common injury location for competitive swimmers. I say “unsurprisingly”, because conservative estimates suggest competitive swimmers roll their arms over roughly 3 million times per year (and this is even with a 4-week holiday accounted for, which might not happen in an Olympic cycle). Even though humans are bioplastic and capable of adapting to the aforementioned loads (in theory), we are not bulletproof and sometimes injuries do occur.

The question becomes, can we prevent these injuries? Are there modifiable risk factors we can target? Inevitably, when it comes to the shoulder of elite athletes, we tend to find associations between shoulder pain and shoulder strength, range of motion, and scapula kinematics. Does it logically follow that an exercise program aimed at these so called physical ‘impairments’ will reduce the incidence of shoulder pain in competitive swimmers? Does an exercise program improve possible modifiable risk factors, such as shoulder strength and is an exercise program an effective method of treating shoulder injuries in competitive swimmers?

The primary aim of this study was to describe the evidence base of exercise therapy interventions for shoulder pain and musculoskeletal risk factors for shoulder pain in swimmers. The study also had a secondary aim, which was to identify gaps in the literature and provide recommendations for future research and practice.

Conservative estimates suggest competitive swimmers roll their arms over roughly 3 million times per year.
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An exercise program comprised of multimodal exercise might prevent some shoulder injuries, but we’re really not sure of the ‘how and why’.

METHODS

  • This study employed a scoping review to answer its research questions. A scoping review is not a systematic review but uses a similar systematic search method. A scoping review examines the extent, variety, and nature of a topic, and is
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