Shoulder pain is the main cause of missed or modified training in competitive swimmers. Shoulder musculoskeletal maladaptations occur to some extent as a consequence of training loads during swimming that may increase the risk of shoulder injury. Further evidence is needed to understand the training intensities at which these maladaptations occur.


To determine the acute effect of training intensity on the shoulder musculoskeletal physical qualities associated with shoulder injury in competitive swimmers.


Cross-sectional study.


Indoor swimming pool.

Patients or Other Participants

Sixteen asymptomatic national- and regional-level swimmers (7 females, 9 males; age = 14.6 ± 3.9 years, height = 160.5 ± 12.7 cm, mass = 55.3 ± 12.5 kg).

Main Outcome Measure(s)

Bilateral active shoulder-rotation range of motion (ROM), joint position sense, latissimus dorsi length, combined elevation test, and shoulder-rotation isometric peak torque and handgrip peak force normalized to body weight were measured before and immediately after low- and high-intensity swim-training sessions. The intensity of the sessions was determined by the distance swum over or at the pace threshold and confirmed by the swimmer's rating of perceived exertion.


After the high-intensity training session, shoulder external-rotation ROM (dominant side: P < .001, change = −7.8°; d = 1.10; nondominant side: P = .002, change = −6.5°, d = 1.02), internal-rotator isometric peak torque (dominant side: P < .001, change = −11.4%, d = 0.42; nondominant side: P = .03, change = −6.6%, d = 0.20), and external-rotator isometric peak torque (dominant side: P = .004, change = −8.7%, d = 0.27; nondominant side: P = .02, change = −7.6%, d = 0.25) were reduced. No changes were found in any of the outcome measures after the low-intensity session.


Shoulder active external-rotation ROM and rotation isometric peak torque were decreased immediately after a high-intensity training session, possibly increasing the risk of injury during subsequent training. Monitoring these variables may help practitioners adjust and manage training loads to decrease the risk of shoulder injury.

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