Preventing A Rotator Cuff Tear

By default, being an athlete often means an individual has a heightened risk of experiencing a performance-related injury. Typically, the pain is caused by overuse. In some cases, back-to-back games or excessive practice sessions can be the culprit. However, such injuries can translate to months where a person is sidelined and unable to perform while waiting to heal fully. A common injury for many athletes is a rotator cuff tear. As with any other health condition, preventative solutions are the best way to avoid getting put on the injured list.


What are rotator cuff tears?

Affecting 2 million people in the US annually, rotator cuff tears are a type of injury that creates shoulder pain and, in some cases, disability. The injury can occur either from overuse or degeneration in the shoulder joint. Specifically, the tendons that hold the shoulder joint in place begin to fray or are torn. The severity can range from a partial to a full-thickness tear. The majority of people with this injury can rely on non-surgical treatments. However, 15-20% of people with a tear will need surgical interventions. Hence, prevention is best.

Stretch before activities

Most athletes know that warm-ups are critical to ensuring optimal performance. Failing to take the time to properly prepare for the activity can facilitate shoulder damage. Proper stretching ensures that blood flow is improved to the area, especially for athletes that need to throw repetitively during a game. Additionally, engaging in proper warm-up stretches ensures the muscle isn’t tense and that flexibility is improved.

Strength training exercises

Whether a professional or an amateur, exercising isn’t just about growing muscle groups. The process is also beneficial for improving joint strength and durability. Strength training exercises focus more on improving the range of motion (ROM) and stability in the region. Specifically, athletes should focus on using light resistance to safely isolate the shoulder muscle group and the rotator cuff tendons.

Reconsider body mechanics

Throwing athletes should understand that proper form is critical to success. However, playing sports professionally doesn’t prevent a person from creating bad habits regarding physical stance. To prevent damaging the shoulder, athletes should consider enlisting a coach that can provide feedback and guidance regarding proper stance throughout the entire throwing process.

Stay off the injured list

Professional athletes can’t afford to be indefinitely injured. From losing function to never regaining full capabilities after recovery, an injury can be a dangerous prospect. To avoid that reality, people need to be mindful of the body’s limitations as well as behaviors that can encourage physical damage. Although all sports-related injuries can’t be entirely avoided, engaging in proper pre-game activities and working to perfect stance and muscle group strength can keep athletes throwing for longer.

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