A new year brings about new resolutions for most, including aspirations of working out consistently. Overhand sports such as baseball, tennis, volleyball, swimming, and softball require a significant amount of shoulder use and it is important to keep in mind the best ways to maintain healthy shoulders. Dr. Joshua Dines, Orthopedic Surgeon, provides helpful tips on preventing shoulder injuries.
- Prior to activity, it is important to have enough time to warm up and cool down. Make sure that you get your heart rate up then stretch the major muscle groups, including your shoulders, back, and legs. Other ways to get your heart rate going is riding on an exercise bike and for the shoulders, arm circle exercises, alternating between small and large circles.
- As you get older, it is important to have strong rotator cuff muscles. The main function of the rotator cuff is to rotate the shoulder and lift the arm both internally and externally. Overhand athletes use the rotator cuffs when in action and strength training is one of the best ways to ensure strong rotator cuffs. Also, elastic band exercises such as the T, Y, and I formations are proven to work well.
- Between events, allow yourself appropriate time to recover. Whether you play tennis, volleyball, or softball, you should always find time to rest in between events. If you are a multisport athlete, it is recommended to alternate sports, ensuring that no one sport is performed in consecutive periods of time.
- Most importantly, listen to your body. If an area of your body starts to hurt during a workout, avoid the mentality of no pain, no gain and stop your workout. This mentality can lead to many problems such as soreness and injury. Painless clicking in the shoulders is not necessarily a cause for concern. However, it may very well be a sign from your body to allow yourself time to rest. And, if it becomes painful, see your local musculoskeletal or sports medicine specialist.
Dr. Joshua Dines is an orthopedic surgeon and a member of the Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service at Hospital for Special Surgery. He was the team doctor for the U.S. Davis cup tennis team, and currently serves as an assistant team physician for the New York Mets.