Millions of people each year experience some form of rotator cuff damage and it’s most typically seen in those individuals who participate in a sport such as baseball, basketball, tennis, swimming, volleyball, or any competition in which there is consistent strain on the shoulder muscles.
But if you are a professional athlete or just enjoy blowing off some steam on the weekends, avoiding a rotator cuff injury is not only important but it’s entirely feasible through exercise and preventive care.
Rotator cuff problems can emerge when you least expect and it’s critical to adopt smart and sensible practices to maintain the cuff muscles and the tendons around them. It’s a delicate area of the body that can suffer a tear from constant wear and repetitive movement.
How the Rotator Cuff Works
Your rotator cuff is comprised of a variety of four muscles and a network of tendons located above, behind and in front of your shoulder. These tendons are connected to muscles that originate at the shoulder blades.
When the shoulder moves, those muscles and tendons work together to balance and secure the shoulder joint, the humeral portion of the arm bone, and the shoulder blade. But during contraction of the muscles, the tendon of the rotator cuff does the work of rotating the shoulder in every direction including up, down, and inward.
When a rotator cuff sustains an injury, it’s usually a tear of some sort. It can be a partial or a full tear sustained from too much training or excessive movement of the arm above the head. Professional athletes can also sustain a torn rotator cuff from an injury during gameplay.
One may suffer a strain of the tendons in the area around the shoulder and rotator cuff and these often come with classifications as to the severity of the strain. The tendons may also become strained or tear in part or in full.
The aging process can also contribute to the muscle or tendons being damaged. A majority of these types of injuries are seen in males age 65 or older. But younger people can also be at risk, even teens who are involved in multiple sports in school or after school.
Preventing a strain or tear can be done through exercises designed to condition and strengthen the rotator cuff. Your orthopedic doctor richmond va can offer you some valuable advice on the actions and training strategies that are most effective.
But before you set that appointment, here are some helpful hints to keep in mind for maintaining the health of your rotator cuff for the long term:
For starters, you want to warm up properly for taking on any strenuous physical activity. That means taking time to stretch and getting the shoulder area prepared to take on all of that movement. This is especially crucial if you plan on working out and lifting heavy objects.
However, it’s also important to do proper stretching of your shoulders and arms if you plan on taking part in any of the sports that were mentioned previously. Any repetitive lifting of the arm over the head is going to put some pressure on the rotator cuff and you must get the body warmed up and ready to take on that kind of activity.
The first thing to remember is to go slow, take it easy when you start out trying to strengthen your rotator cuff. Choosing exercises with lower resistance and additional repetitions will gradually build those muscles while lowering the possibility of sustaining an injury.
Certain movements can also help build muscle, like raising your arms to the side, performing external rotation moves, and stretches that emulate hugging motions.
But careful to avoid exercises that require shoulder stretches in which the arm is raised over the head. These movements can contribute to the potential for injury of the cuff.
Rotator Cuff Injuries
Many exercises that you can practice for conditioning and strength should be done carefully and to avoid injury. But if a cuff has been injured previously, it’s even more vital to safeguard it from getting injured all over again.
Be sure to rest throughout your exercises and rest the shoulders prior to starting a major workout. Rest is one of the best ways to keep your shoulder from getting hurt. Massages and compresses can also be valuable.
Above all, if you do injure yourself at any time, DO NOT keep working with that shoulder. Insistence upon continuing despite being hurt can only aggravate the problem and will not strengthen the muscles.