Physio Tips with Prue Stokes
I have travelled as the team sports physio for the Australian Open Water swim team every year since 2010. Working with open water swimmers, I am used to assessing and treating injuries caused by training overload. These usually occur due to a fast increase in training volume, but can also result from a change in training (ie. more pull, extra paddle use).
The two most important factors to consider in preventing injury in open water swimming are:
1. Slowly increasing training load
2. Correcting any stroke faults.
At South Cott Physio, we conduct physiotherapy swimming screenings. These involve a series of swimming specific tests of range of movement and strength. If any deficiencies are found, specific exercises are given to correct these and to allow a better freestyle stroke pattern.
Some examples of the screening tests to try at home are:
Abduction internal rotation test:
This screening tool tests the ability of the swimmer to achieve a high elbow position in the water, thereby allowing an early ‘catch’.
Combined Elevation test:
This tests the ability of the swimmer to achieve a good streamline position in the water, thereby reducing drag. It requires good flexibility of the upper back (thoracic spine).
Thoracic rotation with arms overhead:
This test highlights whether the swimmer has enough rotation in the upper spine to allow a good body roll in the water.
If any of these tests are difficult or you lack the ability to move easily in to these positions, a physio screening would be recommended.
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