Athletic development specialists dedicated to the art and science of excellence in movement

Shoulder Internal Rotation and Swimming: Part I

This week at Swimming Science we look at shoulder internal rotation in swimming.  Though sometimes considered a taboo movement contributing to injury, internal rotation is a critical aspect of shoulder health and performance.  If you don't get internal rotation from within the joint, you'll either find movement from a less desirable source or will eschew that movement altogether, which can impede performance and lead to a whole different set of injury issues. 

Triathletes should take note as well.  Reuter (2008) looked at the shoulders of twenty three Ironman athletes and found multiple cases of rotator cuff and AC joint damage.  Although there was no statistically significant relationship between pain and pathology in this study, triathletes should know that swimming relatively low volumes does not make them immune from risk in the water.  Further, while we can only theorize as to the connection between pathology and movement impairment in this particular study, we do know the presence of pathology can be a warning sign of future injury and may impede skill acquisition as it relates to stroke mechanics.   


Reuter, RM, Hiller, WD, Ainge, GR, Brown, DW, Dierenfield, L, Shellock, FG, Cruces, JV 3rd.  Ironman Athletes and MRI Assessment of the Shoulder.  Skeletal Radiol.  2008 Aug;37(8):737-41. Epub 2008 Jun 10. 

Shoulder Health of Ironman Triathletes, by Carson Boddicker



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