Did you know that shoulder injuries are one of the most common injuries seen in an orthopedic practice? The shoulders have a wide range of motions, able to easily flow in and out of all planes of movement. This high mobility comes with a drawback though; it makes them much more prone to injury. Whether it’s for your job, home upkeep, or a hobby, repetitive movements of the shoulder can greatly increase your chances of hurting it. So, here are 5 tips to avoid those shoulder injuries.
#1 Check your posture
While a healthy, balanced posture is important for the proper movement of your neck and back, it’s also important for your shoulder health. When you slouch forward, you’re not just pulling the shoulder joints forward as you round your back, but also rotating them inward. This can create imbalances throughout the upper back, chest, and shoulders, putting extra strain through several of the structures that, over time, can lead to abnormal patterns of movement, making you more prone to injury.
#2 Always warm up
This may seem like a no brainer to some, but so many ignore this important step. And it’s important to remember, warmups aren’t just for workouts. If you have a physically demanding job or you’re going to be jumping into some activity your body isn’t used to, don’t skip this step. Take a few minutes to do some shoulder movements, stretches, and targeted warm-up exercises, preparing your shoulders and arms. It improves circulation, eliminates joint stiffness, and prepares your muscles for the movements ahead.
#3 Strengthen your shoulders
There are many shoulder injuries caused by weaknesses in specific muscles, so strengthening them can help you avoid injury. Oftentimes, through work or habitual motions we tend to do just a few movements within a certain plane and neglect others. Consider what motions you perform on a regular basis, and try to add in the other planes of movement. For example, if you’re constantly reaching in front of you and keeping your arms in toward your sides, try adding in some controlled movements and exercises that take your arms back, out to the side, and rotating outward. This can help balance out the strength in your shoulder, preventing many common injuries.
#4 Avoid sudden heavy loads
Let’s face it, when stuff needs to get done, it needs to get done. You may be impatient when it comes to relying on others for help, but trying to go into beast mode to take care of some heavy lifting by yourself is just asking for an injury. You have nothing to prove to yourself or anybody else, so ask for help. If you have to do things on your own, use levers, pulleys, or wheels to help. Be sure to stabilize well first, keep your elbows in toward your sides (the most stable positioning for your shoulder), and go slow.
#5 Eat healthy foods
Healthy eating is one of the most important aspects in your overall health, and your muscles and joints most definitely benefit from some specific nutrients. Protein rich foods like meats and legumes help your muscles recover and stay strong. Turmeric, ginger, and garlic are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties. And calcium rich foods like milk, spinach, greens, and sweet potatoes can keep your bones strong. All of these work together to keep your muscles and joints working well, decreasing your chances of injury. And even if an unavoidable injury does happen, keeping your body well-nourished may speed up and enhance your recovery efforts.
So as you go about your daily routine, consider adding in some of these tips to keep your body healthy and injury free!