Some of the best ways to prevent musculoskeletal injuries — hamstrings, Achilles tendons, lower back — are with daily exercises, proper warm-ups before workouts, and a healthy lifestyle. And your shoulder, which includes your rotator cuff, is no different. Some preventive measures can go a long way in helping you avoid rotator cuff injuries.
At Performance Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, we’re all about helping our patients stay active and healthy as naturally as possible. Here, our highly experienced team shares their recommendations for preventing rotator cuff injuries.
Common causes of rotator cuff injuries
It’s important to understand what can cause a rotator cuff injury so you can take the right precautions if any of these circumstances apply to your profession or recreational activities.
You might not be a pitcher for the Mets or even your local softball team, but anytime you throw a ball or reach up to change a lightbulb, you’re putting strain on your rotator cuff — the muscles and tendons that attach the bones of your shoulder joint.
Other overhead activities that can lead to shoulder pain and injury include:
- Painting a wall or ceiling
- Hammering a nail into the wall overhead
- Serving a tennis ball
- Playing volleyball or basketball
- Lifting an object to a high shelf
- Construction work
- Repetitive overhead arm motions
Overuse of your rotator cuff muscles can lead to tears and strains that cause dull aches or even intense shoulder pain.
Age and degeneration
Age is a major risk factor for rotator cuff injuries. In fact, if you’re over 60 years old, you’re five times more likely to suffer a rotator cuff tear than you were in your younger years. Smokers, adults with high cholesterol, arthritis, or diabetes are also at risk for shoulder injuries.
Tips to avoid rotator cuff injuries
Strengthening the muscles and tendons in your shoulder helps prevent rotator cuff injuries. Exercises specific to your shoulder not only increase strength, but they improve flexibility, as well. We can recommend specific exercises based on your age, ability, and overall health.
Warm up properly before recreational activities
Simple stretches such as arm raises, shoulder rotations, and rowing motions using exercise bands (or no resistance at all), can loosen tight muscles and improve flexibility and endurance.
In addition to aging, smoking is a big risk factor for rotator cuff tears. Smoking negatively affects your body’s ability to heal, so if you do suffer a rotator cuff injury, it may be harder to recover if you smoke.
Lower your cholesterol
Studies show a correlation between high cholesterol levels and rotator cuff injuries. Although doctors don’t fully understand the connection, it certainly makes sense to keep your cholesterol at a safe level for a variety of other health benefits, too.
Get regular chiropractic adjustments
Musculoskeletal manipulation — such as chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy — may help your rotator cuff and the surrounding shoulder area stay healthy. Chiropractic care and physical therapy help restore function, mobility, and range of motion and can be especially helpful for sore shoulder muscles and tendons.
Already have shoulder pain or a rotator cuff injury? We can prescribe complementary medications and treatments to help alleviate shoulder pain. Under their expert care, you can potentially avoid further injury or even surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff.
Give Performance Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine a call today to request an appointment, or book online through our convenient scheduler.