Despite the cold weather outside, now is the perfect time to start getting your shoulder in shape for spring and summer sports such as baseball, tennis, volleyball, swimming, and softball. All 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, HSS sports medicine surgeon, provides helpful tips on preventing shoulder injuries.
- Successful participation in overhand sports depends on strong rotator cuff muscles. The main function of the rotator cuffis to rotate the shoulder and lift the arm both internally and externally. Overhand athletes use the rotator cuffs when in action. 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. Starting a rotator cuff strengthening regimen now will serve you well this summer!
- 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.
- 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 or game, avoid the mentality of “no pain, no gain,” and stop. This mentality can lead to more serious injury. Particularly early in the season, build up slowly with regards to the amount of work to which you are subjecting your shoulders. Soreness that resolves quickly is likely ok but pain that persists may warrant a visit to your local musculoskeletal or sports medicine specialist.
Updated on February 24, 2020
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.