A note from Badger Parent Advocate, Michael Conaton:

“Dad, my shoulder’s getting worse…” Those dreaded words. The sinking feeling in your stomach. The helplessness of wondering how to help. The agony of sharing their pain as they try to get through a workout or meet. Dealing with your swimmer’s frustration as they kick in lane one or have to miss practice all together.

I hope you never have to go through this, but we all know that the repetitive motion in a swimmer’s joints can cause vulnerability to episodes of inflammation, tendinitis or worse. What to do?

Communication is key, starting with your swimmer. Encourage your kid to tell you and their coach about unusual and persistent pain. All swimmers experience frequent aches and pains. The trick is to be able to identify serious issues early enough so that they can be addressed and resolved quicker. I am not a doctor or a coach. But as a parent, I am sensitive to recurring complaining beyond the typical aches and pains. When it was more than just trying to get out of a practice or a meet and you could just tell there was real discomfort, I encouraged the conversation with the coach. The coach is also not a doctor so they might suggest you see one, or they might have you change lanes for a day or so to see if it calms down. All very tricky and case by case stuff that has no right or wrong way to address. The point is to keep lines of communication open and talk about lingering issues and potential corrective courses. I believe Badger coaches definitely have the kids’ health top of mind. Kids should not feel guilty for missing practice or a meet if they are proactively seeking and carrying through with prescribed remedies, AND if they are communicating with their coaches.

We all have our own doctors and PTs that I’m sure are all qualified and will help your child with their issues when you feel the time is right. For your further reference, Dr. Scott Rodeo at HSS has treated many Badger kids and is interested in working further with Badger families. Dr. Rodeo is a former swimmer, an accomplished orthopedic doctor, and team doctor for the US Olympic Swimming Team and NY Giants. Short of the MRI and X-ray consultation for chronic or acute issues, many Badger families have had success with physical therapists and chiropractors. Often pain associated with a swimming injury is actually a result of another issue like an impingement or misalignment. Again for your information, Badger families have been treated by Dr. Rob Silverman, an accomplished chiropractor and nutritionist working with several Westchester area sports teams. Dr. Silverman is also interested in working further with Badger families. If you contact Dr. Rodeo or Dr. Silverman, please identify your kid as a Badger swimmer.

Whatever course of action you take, we have found that there is a very meaningful mental aspect to how you approach your treatment. Go with your decision and don’t second guess your course.  Having confidence in your decision and following through and feeling good about your path is important. What works for you IS the right way. Also it’s important to keep a long term perspective.  All of our kids have long careers ahead of them. If they miss a day, or a week, or heaven forbid a few months, in the grand scheme of things it will be OK. You and your swimmer will get through it. If not through doctors and PT and rest, then with body maturity over time. A lot of kids will grow out of it. Don’t panic. Your kids will see your panic. I believe our job is to certainly seek out the course of action we think is best, but to also then convince our kids that the treatment chosen is in fact the right thing to do.

Finally, preventive maintenance is obviously a great path to pursue. This week’s article was written by Dr. Rodeo and includes many shoulder and core exercises geared toward strength and flexibility. The older Badger kids are doing many of these exercises during the seasonal dry land workouts. I honestly think it’s tough to expect your kids to come home and work on some of these drills in their bedrooms. But at least you have them and for those so motivated, setting up a set of rubber bands in their bedroom or a sit-up mat for the occasional exercise is probably not a bad thing, IF DONE MODERATELY and CORRECTLY.

Download PDF on Shoulder Injury Prevention

Thank you for your emails to date. Please send your further comments and questions to me at mikecbadger@gmail.com.

Michael Conaton, Badger Swim Club Inc. and Badger Swimming Inc. accept no liability for the content of this article, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.

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