Common swimming injuries can be avoided

Story Image

Dr. Roy G. Henderson is Dr. Henderson is part of the Orthopaedics team at Dreyer Medical Clinic. | Supplied photo


Editor’s note: Dr. Roy G. Henderson is part of the Sports Medicine team at Dreyer Medical Clinic. He contributes this article about pool safety.

Although swimming is a very safe activity, minor and major injuries do occur. For those who swim for fun, such as in a backyard pool, water park, or lake or river, the most common injuries will be sprains, strains, and scrapes that happen from falls and rough play. Most of these injuries can be avoided just by being careful and avoiding running on slippery surfaces.

Major injuries, such as drowning and head/spine injuries, are rare but can be catastrophic. Some steps to prevent drowning accidents include installing adequate fencing and self-latching gates around home pools, designating a responsible adult (who can swim and knows CPR) to watch young swimmers, learning how to swim, not swimming alone, and wearing life jackets. Always avoid diving head-first into shallow water or where the depth of the water is not known to prevent spinal cord injuries.

Competitive swimmers and those who swim regularly for exercise are more likely to suffer from overuse injuries. These result from repetitive motion, doing too much, and not allowing adequate time to recover from previous injuries. Stroke technique is a major culprit when it comes to overuse injuries. They usually affect shoulders and knees, but can also involve the elbows, feet, ankles and back. Such injuries can be prevented by having adequate upper body strength and flexibility, gradually increasing the intensity of workouts, allowing adequate rest between practices, and getting advice from a good coach on stroke technique. Swimmers with persistent pain should be evaluated by a doctor.

Dr. Henderson is part of the Orthopaedics team at Dreyer Medical Clinic. Call (630) 264-8720 to make an appointment, or for more information visit

Provided by Dreyer Medical Clinic