CAUSE OF SHOULDER INJURIES
Usually contact sports such as rugby, or gymnastics and horse riding where falling happens are responsible but excessive training such as in swimming can overwork the shoulder muscles and tendons and this is an overuse injury.
If the athlete has suffered a direct blow there will usually be sudden pain in the shoulder. A muscle or tendon maybe torn or partly torn and there may also be damage to the ligaments in the shoulder which will be a sprain. A torn ligament is a sprain whereby a torn muscle or tendon is a shoulder strain. The overuse injury starts with little pain but gradually gets worse as the athlete continues to use the shoulder.
HEALING AND RECOVERY
After a direct blow the shoulder should no longer move as this will do further damage to the injured tissues. Ice should be applied over the injured area but protect the skin with a thin towel from the ice. This should be done every couple of hours for the first twenty four hours to reduce the swelling. This is because the ice stimulates the blood flow to and from the damaged area. Avoid heat penetrating creams as this will delay recovery. Medical advice should be sought as there is a risk that there may be a cracked or broken bone.
For overuse injury apply ice to sooth the area, stop the activity that is probably causing the problem and seek medical advice just in case the shoulder is inflamed and it is the inflammation causing the pain.
Shoulder repetitive strain injury or overuse
For overuse injuries the key to repetitive training without problems is to build up gradually. Avoid doing ‘extra’ training if you have had to miss a day or two and after intense training have a rest day. Warming up is essential and diet is also important for repetitive training. Enough energy foods should be eaten and never train on an empty stomach.
Shoulder strain exercises
- When the shoulder is free of pain gentle exercises can be done.
- The movements will be within a very small range, but may be the only type of strengthening exercise that can be done without pain and should be started as soon as possible to promote the most useful healing.
- Stand with your injured arm by your side and with you other hand hold your injured arm between you elbow and shoulder and push you injured arm forward holding the injured arm steady with your hand. Hold for a count of ten.
Repeat this exercise but push your injured arm backwards.
Same again but this time push your injured arm outwards.
- Stand with your legs slightly apart, put your arms at your side and raise them to shoulder height. Hold for a count of ten and repeat.
- Standing with your legs slightly apart, hold both arms out in front of you, raise them and touch your hands above your head.
These last two exercises can then be repeated using light weights.
Protect and prevent your shoulder from further injury
Firstly all equipment should be checked. Even racquets can break or straps on helmets can be broken but still used. Floors should not be slippery and football pitches should not be a mud bath. Sports shoes should not be worn after they have become old and worn even though athlete’s love their tastiest trainers or their luckiest ones. The support will not be adequate and there can be risk of tripping.
Always warm up adequately as this brings blood and oxygen to the joints and also lubricates them. Make arriving for you sport early enough to warm up as part of the session, as once injury has occurred the risk of further injury is higher. Warming up also enhances performance. If it is possible play for a shorter length of time to test out your shoulder for full movement and function without any problems.