injury screening for swimmers

Injury Screening for Swimmers

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Injury screens were recently popularized with the functional movement screen (FMS). In fact, we created a comprehensive guide for injury screening for swimmers in our Dryland for Swimmers book. We created this as we felt the land-based tests weren’t predictable of swimming due to the novelties of the motions in the pool.

One of the most effective methods to reduce the risk of injuries may be resistance training (RT). A recent meta-analysis, resistance training-based sports injury prevention programs reduced injuries on average by 66% compared with prevention programs without a muscular strength focus. Resistance training not only makes an athlete stronger, but may reduce risk of injury.

Maximal Strength for Screening

A recent study analyzed a 1RM back squat strength as a screening tool for risk of LE injuries, a retrospective study over a competitive season was performed using Division I football, women’s volleyball, and softball teams.

A total of 71 athletes from football (n= 46), softball (n= 10), and volleyball (n=15) were included in the final sample of this study.

Specifically, this study performed the following protocol:

“Back Squat One Repetition Maximum. Each subject trained with the barbell back squat within their respective strength and conditioning program and had performed 1RM back squat testing. Subjects performed a general 10-minute dynamic warm-up before any testing. After warm-up, the subjects began with an empty barbell and slowly began ramping up weight to 90% of their previous 1RM. Three attempts were given after this threshold to establish a new 1RM. The players were visually assessed by a NSCA-certified strength coach during each 1RM attempt and depth was assessed by making sure the hip crease moved below the top of the knee.”

An injury was classified as meaning that any physical or medical condition that was reported to medical staff that occurred as a result of participating in competition and training activities and required medical attention were recorded.

Relative 1RM back squat strength was significantly lower in injured players than uninjured players for both men and women, with uninjured men and women having higher mean back squat relative strengths of 2.20 and 1.63, respectively than injured men (1.89 ) and women (1.39).

Considerations for Injury Screening for Swimmers

In swimming, the shoulders are the main source of injury. Therefore, one could argue the back squat isn’t a great predictor of injury in swimmers due to the ground-based action. However, assessing maximal activities might be a better indicator of injuries that simple range of motion or low intensity tasks. Therefore, when assessing injuries, maximal strength should be assessed for the upper and lower body for swimmers.


  1. Case MJ, Knudson DV, Downey DL. Barbell squat relative strength as an identifier for lower extremity injury in collegiate athletesJournal of strength and conditioning research. 2020;2020 Feb 20. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000003554

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