I have been swimming for as long as I can remember, but over the past 2 years when I pull myself through the water I have been getting a lot of pain in my hands, it appears just below my knuckles (towards the palm) on the palm side of my hand the pain appears in both hands after I have swam for a short while, roughly about 1/4 of a Mile.

I am pretty certain that there is very little wrong with my technique, as I have had this looked at by multiple trainers who have swam/trained and taught at a competitive level, to see if this is the problem, they said my stroke looks fine.

I have tried having a break from swimming for a few weeks to see if my hands just need time to recover/heal and I have also tried swimming more frequently to try and strengthen them up, neither has worked.

It feels like poking a bruise, but Worse and like I need to crack my knuckles.

Is there any equipment around which could possibly help me, such as swimming hand supports or anything else that you guys can think of?

EDIT: Whilst looking at my hand at work on close inspection I can see that the knuckle for my little finger is very slightly and very faintly bruised, I'm not sure if this is from my swim last night or it was already there.

  • Have you tried any hand grip exercises that strengthen the muscles?
    – user 85795
    Mar 13, 2014 at 4:25
  • @skullpatrol I have yes.
    – J-3
    Mar 13, 2014 at 9:17
  • 1
    How about closing your hands into a fists while you swim?
    – user 85795
    Mar 13, 2014 at 9:25
  • @skullpatrol ... Have you ever tried doing that ?
    – J-3
    Mar 13, 2014 at 9:40
  • 1
    @skullpatrol Closed fist is used as a training exercise, to focus on getting a better technique by understanding how streamlining works, so you can use this knowledge to change the way that you pull through the water, it is only often done over a few lengths, and not long distance. And whilst trying to train properly, this method is - to be brutally honest and I'm sorry - a stupid suggestion, you end up using too much energy and actually causing more muscle pain. I am sorry if some of this may come across as a bit rude, and I do thank you for your suggestion.
    – J-3
    Mar 13, 2014 at 9:56

1 Answer 1


Although this may sound redundant - go see a doctor. I generally accept pains for about month, anything longer makes we worry something is wrong. At 2 years...

And I would focus on hand-therapy(stretching and warm up regularly throughout the week) rather than equipment. My friend is 30yrs old and couldn't ride a bicycle or drive a car for a long time because after a while he would develop wrist pain. He started a physiotherapy 2 months ago and claims his pain has significantly receded.

I haven't been swimming for long, but I've noticed fatigue in my hand because I try to keep my hand firm to avoid too much water flowing between my fingers. Your pain sounds like what I used to get in acrobatics after gripping my partner in a lift for too long or too intensely. But those pains would hold for about a week or two and then go away. Maybe you're form is good, but you started keeping your hands too stiff two years ago (which is hard to observe for a bystander). Maybe you started a different sport at that point in time that could have impacted your hands.

I find the fact that you've had this problem for two years more worrisome than having pain after training.

  • thanks, i have never really thought about having physio on my hands, and now that you mention stiffness in my hands whilst swimming thinking about it i do keep them very firmly shut which from what you've said could be a cause. Normally the pain fades after a day or 2 like your arobatics one, but is a recurring one when I train. Thanks for the response, its a great help!
    – J-3
    Mar 21, 2014 at 10:31
  • Glad to give some ideas - hope you can solve your problem. And for future reference, don't wait too long before seeing a sports doctor if you have reoccurring pain during training. You just reminded me to see a sports doctor myself, for some strange pain that I've been having for a couple months in the side of my head when I stretch my right shoulder. Follow what you preach... eh? : ) Mar 21, 2014 at 10:43

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