Water polo originated in the mid-1800’s as an aquatic version of rugby. Let that sink in for a second… They took one of the roughest sports in existence, then added water to it! The sport itself features intervals of intense bursts of activity about 15 seconds long followed by slightly lower intensity intervals of 20 seconds. Lacerations, contusions, scrapes, dislocations, fractures and concussions are relatively common in water polo, not to mention the numerous overuse-type injuries that result from training and the intensity of the swimming and throwing involved in the sport.


Spine discomfort* is common in water polo athletes. There is a lot of repetitive rotation of the neck in both swimming and breathing during swimming, and the throwing motions used in water polo can put a lot of strain on the brachial plexus nerves, as well as the neck. Headaches, neck discomfort*, acute torticollis and arm discomfort* can all be symptoms of these problems. Assuming a proper diagnosis, conservative care can handle these problems quite effectively. Spinal manipulation, adjustments and mobilizations, massage and other manual therapy, dry needling and acupuncture as well as active stretching and strengthening are very effective for the common neck injuries of water polo. RockTape kinesiology tape can help mitigate neck discomfort*, shoulder discomfort* and even radicular discomfort* into the arm from nerve irritation. Coupled with rehabilitative movements, it can also help prevent further injuries down the road by encouraging neurological stability and control. Likewise, the instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization that RockTape-trained professionals use with Blades or Mohawk instruments can help relieve nerve entrapments and treat the soft-tissue component of neck and arm injuries very comfortably and effectively.

Athlete Jamie Neushul – Photo by USAWP/Catharyn Hayne


Shoulder injuries are another very common problem in water polo, as you can imagine. Outside of acute dislocations or subluxations that happen from collisions with other players, the shoulders take a lot of repetitive strain during training as well as with the constant swimming, treading water and throwing involved in the sport. Many athletes are predisposed to shoulder discomfort* and eventual pathology because of a lack of mobility, stability and control around the very complex shoulder joints. Movement-based professionals can assess and diagnosis problems like this effectively and, as with the neck, use Blades and Mohawk instruments as well as RockTape kinesiology tape to help the shoulder move more properly in training and sport. RockTape’s exercise bands can also be used for dozens of resistance exercises that your provider can prescribe to help strengthen the tissues of the shoulder girdle as well as train your brain for stability.


Other common areas of problems for water polo athletes include the elbow, hand and wrist and groin strains. The majority of these problems are acute sprains/strains or cumulative, more repetitive in nature. As with the areas already mentioned, a combination of good diagnosis, manual and conservative therapies and using Blades and Mohawk instruments, kinesiology taping and targeted exercises, most of these injuries can be conservatively treated, rehabilitated and prevented by RockTape-trained professionals.

Athletes from left to right – Gabby Stone, Melissa Seidemann, Jamie Neushul & Maggie Steffens – Photo by: USAWP/Catharyn Hayne