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Swimming and Diving Safety for Your Orthopedic Health

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Swimming and Diving Safety for Your Orthopedic Health

Especially during a warm Texas summer, taking a dip in the pool or lake is a great way to cool off and stay active. In fact, swimming is often recommended as a beneficial low-impact activity that supports orthopedic health.

But even with the many benefits of swimming and diving, injuries are still possible—from aches and pains due to overuse to serious neck or spine injuries when diving. Whether you’re enjoying some summertime fun or you’re a swimming or diving athlete, a few safety precautions can help keep your musculoskeletal system healthy when in the water.

Common swimming and diving injuries

One of the most common swimming and diving injuries can happen when you aren’t even in the pool. According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, more than 120,000 people had an injury related to a pool deck in 2021. Slick, wet surfaces can put swimmers and divers at risk for falls, causing injuries like fractures or dislocations.

Overuse injuries are also a possibility for swimmers. Poor swimming mechanics, repetitive motions, and insufficient rest can lead to injuries in the neck, shoulders, lower back, or knees. For example, swimmer’s shoulder is a common overuse injury, particularly in athletes. One study found that over 40% of shoulder injuries in swimmers were due to overuse mechanics.

Head, neck, and spine injuries when diving into a pool or lake may also occur. Especially for inexperienced divers, accidents like hitting the diving board or diving into water that is not deep enough can have serious consequences. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, this type of severe diving injury happens most often in teens and young adult males. For diving athletes, low-back pain from repetitive bending and twisting is common too.

Safety tips for swimming and diving

When swimming or diving this summer, a few safety precautions can help you and your family reduce the risk of orthopedic injuries and other accidents. Additionally, swimming and diving athletes at all levels should know how to enjoy their sport with a focus on injury prevention.

Use these general guidelines to stay safe:

  • If swimming or diving for exercise, warm up and stretch ahead of time.
  • Walk carefully on pool decks and wet surfaces.
  • Pay attention to posture, form, and proper mechanics for your sport.
  • If you notice aches or pains during swimming or diving, stop and allow time for rest.
  • Don’t dive into shallow water or water where the depth is unknown.
  • Only dive from the end of a diving board.
  • Make sure the area is clear of hazards or other people before diving or jumping in the water.
  • Know that natural bodies of water can change over time. Even if an area was safe for swimming or diving in the past, it does not mean it is still safe today.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings, including any posted warnings at lakes or beaches.
  • Don’t mix alcohol or drugs with swimming and diving.
  • Don’t swim or dive alone.
  • Have a plan in case of a swimming or diving injury.

How an orthopedic specialist can help

You should always seek immediate medical attention for severe falls, broken bones, or serious accidents causing a head, neck, or spine injury. For minor overuse injuries, you may be able to resolve your symptoms with rest and over-the-counter medications. Other swimming and diving injuries that aren’t emergencies but cause persistent symptoms should be evaluated by an orthopedic specialist.

An orthopedic specialist can accurately diagnose the causes behind issues like ongoing shoulder or low-back pain. Then, your specialist can provide you with guidance on treatment options and exercises that can support your orthopedic health. With preventive measures and orthopedic care, you’ll be ready to keep enjoying swimming and diving activities safely this summer and beyond.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists, call 972-727-9995 today!