Taking Care of the Special Needs of Swimmers
The upper arm strap serves a similar function to the forearm strap used with tennis elbow. The use of the upper arm strap has had
an emerging role in the management of several types of shoulder problems in swimmers over the past 15 years.
Arm straps have
been used primarily in the management of tendinitis of the biceps and impingement of the rotator cuff muscles. More recently, they
have also been used to improve exercise tolerance in some individuals with shoulder instabilities.
We've recently initiated several
research projects to increase our understanding of the mechanisms by which the strap leads to improved exercise tolerance and enhanced
swim training with injured swimmers.
The Upper Arm Strap
We use upper arm straps in the management of shoulder instabilities in swimmers. Most swimmers with this problem have improved
tolerance of strengthening exercises, as well as better tolerance of stroking, while using the strap. Both lead to an enhancement
of our therapeutic goals, and we feel the strap is a great "cheat" to allow us to get more out of the injured shoulder while
we work to fix the fundamental problems leading to shoulder pain. Although some teams have used arm straps in a preventative role
over the years, this practice seems to be on the wane. More often, arm straps are used in the early stages of managing shoulder discomfort
in swimmers. In minor problems, use of the strap may allow the swimmer to complete their workout without additional irritation.
literature does not contain any controlled studies identifying the mechanisms by which the arm strap works. Instead, most of our experience
is empirical - it is based on the subjective comfort level associated with the use of the strap. We feel that the strap enhances the
function of the upper arm muscles which cross the shoulder, contributing to improved control of the shoulder joint itself.
best experience is with neoprene straps (same material as divers' wetsuits) with swimmers. The straps come in regular and long lengths.
For sizing and purchasing information, contact Jason Vickers:
Concorde Therapy Group
4645 Belpar Street NW
Canton, OH 44718
"Arm straps have been used primarily in the management of tendinitis of the biceps and impingement of the rotator cuff muscles"