Did you know that your shoulder is composed of 5 joints, over 30 muscles and 6 major ligaments? The shoulder can assume as many as 1,600 different positions! With such complex movement, it is easy to understand why shoulders are prone to injury. Chronic injury and severe damage to the ball and socket joint can even result in a shoulder replacement surgery. Whether you are a professional baseball player or simply lift overhead boxes at your workplace, knowing how to prevent shoulder injury is important.
The shoulder is at specific risk for chronic or repeated injury. Many people who engage in repeated overhead movements (during sports or other activities) often suffer from a cycle of rotator cuff damage, which includes impaired function, further impingement and worsening of cuff damage.
Many athletes such as swimmers, tennis players, golfers and baseball pitchers use their shoulders in a significant way while training and performing. Any overhead activity that involves the arm repeatedly raised from below the shoulder level to above shoulder level is vulnerable to cuff damage, or shoulder injury.
At Manhattan Sports Therapy, we value a proactive approach to preserving your mobility and joint health. Here are five ways to prevent shoulder injury:
#1 Brush Up on Your Technique: Many times, shoulder pain is a result of bad habits or techniques used in a specific sport. Your technique can really suffer when your muscles get tired. Depending on your sport and the overhead shoulder motion you engage in, poor technique can compromise proper movement and causes pain and injury. Practice good techniques to ensure your shoulder joints are not in jeopardy as you get fatigued.
#2 Gain Balanced Flexibility: There are many muscles in your shoulder, so the degree of needed flexibility can vary. However, the most important factor to protect your shoulder joint is trying to achieve equal flexibility in the internal and external rotators. One of our physical therapists can provide exercises to help you balance your flexibility in this area.
#3 Strengthen Your Core: Core strength and stability is essential to your body’s performance level in a wide range of sports. It is the foundation for your arms and legs to work from. If your core is strong, it provides a strong kinetic chain of energy during overhead movements. If your lumbar and cervical spine are weak, you may experience pain in your shoulder joint.
#4 Get Rotator-cuff Control: The rotator-cuff muscles need proper positioning of the scapula for effective control, not angled too far upward or downward. The rotator cuff should also be balanced throughout the overhead movement. This requires equal strength and flexibility of the force couples of the rotator cuff.
#5 Build Overall Strength: While the critical components to prevent shoulder injury are technique, flexibility, core stability and rotator-cuff control, you should also take note at your general muscle strength. A strong and well-balanced outer core can help support repeated overhead movements and reduce overuse injury.
Our shoulders are meant to work in amazing ways and we often take our shoulder joint for granted until it is too late and injury sets in. Practicing these five tips can help prevent disruptive shoulder pain and possible shoulder replacement surgery. In addition, it can ensure that you spend more time on the playing field and less time on the sidelines nursing an injury. Book an appointment with Manhattan Sports Therapy today to learn more.