Swimming places high demands on the athlete as to time and training load. High loads cause considerable stress about the joint and musculoskeletal structures, which join into a wide range of postural injuries that can be associated with the breathing pattern. The authors aimed to identify the incidence of postural changes and the relationship of these deviations with the breath type. The authors evaluated 60 elite swimmers from the swim team at the University of Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, Brazil, between the ages 14 and 27 (mean 20±3 years). Age, gender, main swimming style, practice time and breath type were recorded. A digital camera (Sony DSC-W 130 Cybershot) was used for postural evaluation. Statistical analysis used the software SAS V.9 and the exact Fisher's test. The main swimming styles were crawl (42%) and butterfly stroke (25%) and the practice time was 9±4 years. The main postural changes were: 41 (68%) hyperkyphosis chest, 40 (67%) knee hyperextension, 30 (50%) low back pain and 25 (42%) rotation of left shoulder girdle. The authors verified that the alterations in the thoracic spine were associated with the breath type (p=0.03), where 7 (11%) swimmers showed bilateral breath and convex left scoliosis, 6 (10%) bilateral breath and convex right scoliosis, 13 (22%) unilateral right respiration and convex left scoliosis, 4 (7%) unilateral right respiration and convex right scoliosis, 9 (15%) unilateral left breath and convex right scoliosis, 2 (3%) unilateral left breath and convex left scoliosis and 19 (32%) swimmers showed no changes. The breath type more used was the bilateral and right unilateral respiration. The knee hyperextension and hyperkyphosis chest were the main postural deviations of the swimmers. These assessments can be the basis for the development of preventive measures in swimming, to obtain better results for athletes who compete.
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