The shoulder is one of the most complex joints in the body. Made up of more than 30 muscles and six major ligaments, it can move and articulate into more than 1,500 different positions. This large amount of movement and range of motion (ROM) also makes the shoulder prone to overuse and injury.
Many spring athletes, like swimmers, golfers, tennis players, and baseball players rely heavily on their shoulders, often taking it for granted until an injury occurs.
Chronic shoulder pain is common not only for athletes but the general population as well. Any overhead activity that involves taking the arm from below to above the shoulder level has the potential to cause a rotator cuff injury. Repeated impingement on a poorly conditioned rotator cuff can damage it, creating a cycle of damage that often results in impaired function.
Though shoulder injuries are common, the majority of them can be prevented by following some simple guidelines. Athletes should be screened by an experienced physical therapist before the start of the season as a preventative measure for all sorts of common sports injuries. This assessment should address the following areas:
- Sports-specific technique
- Core stability
- Rotator-cuff control
- General strength
Many athletes fall into the habit of overworking and building their ‘show muscles’ – the ones that can be seen when looking in a mirror – such as the pectorals, front head of the deltoids, and trapezius muscles. This leads to an imbalance between the front and back of the shoulder. In a high number of athletes who suffer shoulder injuries, the front of the shoulder joint and surrounding area is overdeveloped in comparison to the back.
- Balanced upper-body workouts – One great way to minimize the possibility of shoulder injuries is to ensure that your upper-body weightlifting sessions are balanced front-to-back. Evening out the common imbalance in shoulder strength is key to prevention and rehabilitation.
- Limiting Range of Movement – Recovery and prevention techniques should focus on strengthening the rotator cuff. The key is to re-introduce weight slowly to prevent re-injury. Ensure that your scapula (shoulder blade) is correctly positioned when performing any exercises to avoid putting unnecessary stress on the shoulder. The chest should be out with shoulders back. Avoid being hunched over when exercising at all times.
- Use Correct Form – Using correct posture and form when performing exercises activates the muscles in the back that are often underworked, helping you to achieve correct muscular balance.
The shoulder is one of the most heavily used joints in the body, and when injured, significantly affects a person’s ability to normally function on a day-to-day basis. Our team of Board Certified Orthopaedic Surgeons will ensure that you get the care you need in the event of a shoulder injury so that you can get back out on the field as soon as possible. Request an appointment online, or contact us today at 904-825-0540 with any questions.