5 Tips for Preventing Shoulder Injuries
Few things are more annoying for an athlete or active person than being sidelined by a shoulder injury. Even everyday activities become a struggle when your shoulder hurts, and though there’s no foolproof way to prevent pain or injuries, there are several steps you can take to avoid an injury or keep it from getting worse.
Always warm up
Exercising cold muscles is almost always a recipe for disaster. Shoulder stretches and even a short cardio session gets your heart rate up and activates the synovial fluid which lubricates your joints. A good warm-up is cheap insurance against an injury that can last a lifetime.
Increase shoulder strength
Lifting and exercising using proper form to strengthen your shoulder can help stabilize the joint, helping to prevent painful dislocation injuries. Always speak to a doctor before beginning a strengthening program. They can help determine which exercises are best for you, or they may recommend working with a physical therapist.
Especially for athletes who spend a lot of time doing overhead motions or even people whose jobs require them to work overhead a lot, cross-training can be a great way to avoid injury while maintaining your physical fitness. For example, if you’re a swimmer, try trading one or two swimming workouts for running or biking to reduce stress on your shoulder.
Like any other muscle group in the body, your shoulder needs time to rest and recover. If you notice pain while doing a certain activity like throwing a ball or lifting weights, find an alternative exercise to take the load off the injured area. Resting your shoulder doesn’t mean giving up all shoulder movement, however. Doing so can result in a stiff shoulder from lack of use. Even mild stretches can help keep your shoulder moving while it recovers.
Change your sleeping position
If you’re someone who sleeps on their side, avoid lying on your injured shoulder at night. Try sleeping on your other side or on your back. If you sleep on your back and it irritates your shoulder, propping up your arm with a pillow can help.
The most important thing to do is always listen to what your body is telling you. It is normal to make adjustments to your workouts or daily routine to help prevent permanent damage down the road. Even if you sustain just a minor injury, it is best to consult with a physician for their input.
If you’re experiencing fitness-related shoulder pain or suffer from another orthopaedic condition, request an appointment online or call (904) 825-0540 to meet with one of our shoulder specialists. Following diagnosis and treatment of your condition, our physicians may refer you to our skilled physical and occupational therapists.
ALBERT VOLK, MD
Board certifications in Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine. He specializes in an all-arthroscopic rotator cuff repair of the shoulder.