Female Swimmers: 3 Tips to Prevent Common Injuries | STACK 4W

Female Swimmers: 3 Tips to Prevent Common Injuries

December 12, 2012 | Gary Mullen

Must See Sports Injuries Videos

It's impossible to completely eliminate injury from the sport of women's swimming. The sport places tremendous stress on the body, which can lead to breakdown over time. However, there are strategies you can implement to reduce your chance of succumbing to some of the common injuries that affect female swimmers.


Wide shoulders increase the torque on the shoulder. As swimmers develop, their shoulders increase in size to adapt to the stress. Women's upper-body physiological and strength differences put them at an increased risk compared to men. A study by Miller et. al. found that women's upper-body strength is 55 to 66 percent less than their male counterparts. This relative weakness places their shoulders at a higher risk of overuse due to the volume of shoulder motions required by the sport.

Injury Solution: Keep your hands underneath your body during the pull phase. Start injury prevention programs immediately. (Learn how to prevent swimmer's shoulder.)

Low Back

Low-back injuries are rampant in our culture. Swimmers are at a particular risk because of frequent flexion and extension of this part of their bodies, which can cause fatigue. Women have a higher overall percentage of body fat, meaning they have less muscle acting to support their weight.

Injury Solution: Make sure your body is moving as a unit, especially during long-axis strokes (freestyle and backstroke). This decreases the shear stress and the risk of injury. For short-axis strokes (butterfly and breast stroke), make sure your body has adequate strength to endure excessive flexion and extension. (Discover how to relieve lower-back pain.)



Women are six times more likely to sustain an ACL injury than men, due in part to their wider hips. Luckily, ground reaction forces and pivoting are not part of swimming, so this helps reduce the risk. However, the breaststroke does place higher stress on the knees than other strokes, especially if technique is faulty or hip strength is inadequate.

Injury Solution: Improve hip strength and keep the hip and knee angle in a straight line to limit inward knee stress. (Prevent ACL injuries with these exercises.)


Miller, AE; MacDougall, JD; Tarnopolsky, MA; Sale, DG (1993). "Gender differences in strength and muscle fiber characteristics." European Journal of Applied Physiology.

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Increasing Speed with USA Swimming

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

Maintaining Your Lower-Body Strength After Tommy John Surgery

Ankle Mobility With Texas Swimming

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

4 Exercises to Fix Bad Posture and Help You Move Better

Training Lessons From Michael Phelps

How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

The SEAL Swim Workout

Why a Sports Hernia Won't Ruin Jadeveon Clowney's Rookie Season

STACK Approved: Finis Swimsense Swim Monitor

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

Designing a Swim Training Program: the BTRE Protocol

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

Tips for Effective Backstroke Technique

How Strong Posture Makes You Faster in the Water

"Swimming Studies" Gives Swimmers New Meaning

Repetitive Freestyle Swimming Workouts

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

Why Your Shin Splints Aren't Really Shin Splints

Performance Benefits of Swimming

Getting Off the Blocks With the Bulldogs

Specific Swimming

Does Creatine Improve Swimming Performance?

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

Does Loss of Sleep Have Same Effects as Sports Head Injuries?

Dumbbell Core Conditioning With Mark Gangloff

Build Endurance With This Navy SEAL Workout Finisher

Simple Tips to Swim a Smarter Freestyle

3 Reasons to Correct Your Weak Links to Prevent Common Injuries

How to Bench Press With a Shoulder Injury

The New Rules for Cryotherapy: Why You're Icing Wrong

Straighten Out Posture Issues With Minnesota Swimming

Olympic Breaststroke Technique

How to Train With Shin Splints

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

How Cristiano Ronaldo Can Defeat the Witch Doctor's Curse

How to Swim Faster

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

How to Prevent Swimmer's Shoulder

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

3 Ways to Protect Your Knees and Prevent ACL Injuries

Stretching With the 'Dawgs

Holding Your Breath With Texas A&M Swimming

Should Pitchers Ice After Throwing to Prevent Shoulder Injuries?

How to Protect Yourself From Heat Stroke This Summer

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

Basketball Prehab: Exercises for 4 Trouble Spots

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

Leg Strength With Hoosier Swimming

Tommy John Surgery 10 Times More Common Than a Decade Ago

Stretching for Success With Longhorn Swimming

3 Causes of Recurring Hamstring Injuries

Will Joel Embiid Be Able to Succeed in the NBA?

How to Avoid Softball Pitching Injuries

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury