One of the most common injuries for overhead athletes involves the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles all originating on the scapula (shoulder blade) and attaching on the humerus (upper arm). These muscles help stabilize the shoulder during movement. It’s important to locate the problem early to prevent overexertion and inflammation.
Typically ice, rest, and over-the-counter pain relievers are all you need for treatment. For more serious injuries, you should consult a physician, as physical therapy may be necessary. A PT or Athletic Trainer will tailor exercises for the rotator cuff to restore flexibility and strength to the shoulder. If the rotator cuff is completely torn, then surgery is a must. There are different types of surgeries depending on the severity of the tear, but most involve repairing the damaged tendons and cartilage.
Addressing issues head-on can prevent overuse injuries for overhead athletes. Prevention techniques include:
Incorporating a stretching routine lowers the risk of injury. A common shoulder stretch utilizes a doorway. Stand in an open doorway and spread your arms out by your sides. Grip the sides of the doorway at shoulder height and lean forward until you feel a light stretch in your muscles. Keep your back straight and shift your weight to your toes. Do not overstretch.
Playing the sport you love doesn’t have to be scary. By integrating certain practices, overhead sport injuries can be a thing of the past. Always speak to your doctor when you feel something wrong. For more information on preventing rotator cuff injuries, contact the Vereen Center today!