My battle with shoulder impingement syndrome

Photo of shoulder impingement syndrome

Photo of shoulder impingement syndrome

Kara Piehl, Staff Writer

I joined my high school swim team in 2017 as a freshman. I had no experience on a competitive swim team before, so I was nervous when I first joined. As soon as my feet dipped into the water, I knew this was the sport for me. I grew to love swimming, and I dedicated myself to the sport and its entirety. After months of training, it was time for my sophomore season of high school swimming. I felt confident  because I had more experience and improved tremendously since last season. During the first week of practice, I started to feel sharp pains in my left shoulder. I was unsure why I had these pains, so I assumed that I was just sore and continued to practice with my team. Over the season, my shoulder was worsening. I started to feel pain every night and some days, it would hurt to simply lift my arm. I began to worry, so I sat down with my coach and we talked about my injury. I was standing face to face with a challenge, really a major setback for me. My head was filled with anger, sadness, and anxiety while I had this conversation.


I found myself sitting in the doctor’s office hours later. Once the doctors took x-rays, I sat and prayed for them to come back with news that wouldn’t take me out of the season. The results came back, and I found out that I had shoulder impingement syndrome and bicep tendonitis, and it took me out of the season for three weeks. Shoulder impingement syndrome is caused by a tendon rubbing on a shoulder blade. I was crushed at first; I wanted to be back in the pool and swim my heart out. I took that time off and thought about how I can become stronger than I was before. I started to do exercises to help my shoulder so I could get strength in it again. My heart was filled with joy once I got to go back to practice. I had to slowly get back into it. In the beginning of this healing process, I was only allowed to swim with equipment because I couldn’t put all that pressure on my shoulder. Some days were easier than others, but I never gave up. I wanted to be even better then what I was before. After two weeks of only swimming with equipment, I was ready to swim without any assistance. I dove in the water and started swimming down the lane. It felt great knowing that I could swim again; I was back to doing what I loved the most.


Over the next year, I continued to work hard. I made sure I worked my shoulder out often to keep it strong. During my junior year of high school swimming season, I reached my goal, and qualified for the Florida High School Athletic Association Regionals Swim Championships. I was filled with excitement and I was extremely proud of myself. I ended up setting a new personal best in the 500-yard freestyle. This experience helped me learn that your passion and dedication will help you defeat any obstacle. If you are passionate about something, you should go above and beyond for it. Your efforts will make a difference for the better. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to swim again after that setback, and now I am working harder than ever.