How To Return to Swimming
Swimming too much, too soon, increases your risk of a shoulder injury.
There are no shortcuts when it comes to returning to swimming. Trying to fast-track the process can lead to injury and more missed sessions. It's not worth it.
Where to Start
The best place to re-start your swimming is in a pool. It's a more controlled environment (versus open-water), and you're less likely to get injured by over-doing it. However, if open-water is your only option, that's fine too. Just be aware that swimming in a wetsuit can place more strain on your shoulders.
For that reason, it's a good idea to make your open water swims a little shorter than your pool swims, at first. Avoid the temptation to swim too far or too fast. Your first swim after an enforced break should be just 25 minutes at an easy intensity (if open water). Or 30 minutes max, if you're swimming in a pool.
Your swims should be done at a low intensity for three weeks. It's not a good idea to do fast efforts or race up and down the lane.
How to Progress
After your first swim session, if your arms, back and shoulders feel fine, you can continue to train 2 or 3 times per week. From there, you can also add 5-minutes per week to your workouts.
This gradual increase gives your body a chance to adapt, with less risk of injury.
If you ARE experiencing any soreness after a 30-minute workout, cut your swims down to 20-minutes and gradually build up again (as above).
Also, perform gentle shoulder stretches after your swims to reduce muscle-shortening, which can lead to shoulder impingement.
Returning to Normal Training
After 3-weeks of consistent swim workouts, you can then start introducing a few harder efforts. For example: 40-minutes alternating 400 "easy" with 100 "moderately hard".
Once you start including harder efforts, you may find your heart-rate is higher than you remember. That's normal, so don't worry. You'll soon get your fitness back.
After another couple of weeks, providing you feel fine, you should be ready to get back into your old training regime again.
Either way, the main thing is to be patient when you return to swimming - and do it in the right way.
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