Entitled Swim-Training Volume and Shoulder Pain Across the Life Span of the Competitive Swimmer: A Systematic Review, the study set out to investigate the relationship between training volume among swimmers and shoulder pain, and to determine training volume and shoulder pain prevalence across the life span of the competitive swimmer.
Using relevant studies from PubMed, Web of Science and MEDLINE, the researchers found 12 that met their criteria, with a total of 1,460 participants. They grouped the swimmers in four different age categories: young (under 15), adolescent (15-17), adult (18-22), and masters (23-77).
Swimmers in the adolescent age group showed the highest rate of shoulder pain at 91.3%, with the other categories ranging from 19.4-70.3%, while adolescents (17.27 +/- 5.25 hours/week) and adults (26.8 +/- 4.8 hours/week) reported the highest training volume.
The study also found that in both the adolescent and masters groups, differences in volume were present for those with and without shoulder pain (higher volume athletes experienced shoulder pain, and lower ones didn’t, in general).
For adolescents, years active in competitive swimming and weekly training volume correlated “significantly” with supraspinatus tendon thickness, and all swimmers who experienced tendon thickening also dealt with shoulder pain.
In conclusion, the evidence suggests that training volume was associated with shoulder pain in adolescent competitive swimmers, and year-round monitoring of the athlete’s training was encouraged to maintain a balanced program.
The study adds that developing athletes should avoid sudden and large increases in swimming volume, and that additional studies are required to determine cutoff values in terms of volume for the different age groups.
- Feijen S, Tate A, Kuppens K, Claes A, Struyf F. Swim-Training Volume and Shoulder Pain Across the Life Span of the Competitive Swimmer: A Systematic Review. J Athl Train. 2020 Jan;55(1):32-41. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-439-18. PMID: 31935141; PMCID: PMC6961642.