Overuse Shoulder Injuries
NASPE/NCAT Sport Injury Resource
There are various structures within the shoulder joint complex that may become
impinged or “pinched” due to repetitive movements
using poor technique, when there is an imbalance of strength in the shoulder
region, doing too much too soon or just doing too much at one time. Overuse
injuries usually occur over time. If tendons become inflamed due to impingement
factors, tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon) occurs. Sometimes
tendons of the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder can become impinged; other
times one of the tendons of the biceps brachii (prominent muscle in the upper
arm) can become irritated. If a bursa (fluid-filled sac which protects bone
and tendon) becomes inflamed due to impingement, the overuse injury is termed
bursitis (inflammation of the bursa).
|Since overuse injuries occur over time, severity of signs and symptoms
develop in a progressive nature.
- Initial symptoms of overuse shoulder injuries may include
shoulder soreness when getting out of bed in the morning, or prior to practice.
Usually once the shoulder is warmed up during practice, the pain goes away
and performance is not affected.
- As the injury progresses, the athlete will notice pain
before, during, and sometimes after practice. Although the athlete may be
able to practice/play, the performance may be affected due to pain.
- Eventually, if left untreated, the athlete may not be
able to move the arm during the day without pain and soreness.
It is important to make sure athletes inform coaches and athletic trainers
when the shoulder becomes sore, even if the soreness is minimal. It
is IMPORTANT to take care of this injury early. Once tendonitis
or bursitis becomes established, it is very difficult to heal the injured
area and rest is generally the main prescription.
Prevention is Key in overuse injuries.
· Apply an ice pack to the shoulder after practice, even if the
shoulder is not sore.
· During initial weeks of practice, start slow and allow the shoulder
to become accustomed to the demands of the activity.
· Include adequate warm up before intensity is increased.
· Be firm on proper/correct technique.
· Include shoulder strengthening exercises, especially for the
rotator cuff muscles. Include shoulder strengthening exercises during
the off-season as well.
· If the athlete complains of soreness in the shoulder, do not
ignore the complaint. Send the athlete to a Certified Athletic Trainer
or other qualified person for proper care.
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