If you’re like a lot of Minnesotans during the warm summer months, you’re outside soaking up the sun and enjoying seasonal activities whenever the opportunity presents itself. For many people, that means they are indulging in athletic activities that involve a lot of overhead arm motions, like golf, tennis or baseball. If you’re not careful (and even when you are), these overhead motions can lead to injury and leave you on the sidelines. In today’s blog, we share some tips for preventing overhead arm injuries during summer athletics.
Overhead Arm Injury Prevention
You put a lot of stress on your rotator cuff during overhead arm motions, which is a group of muscles and soft tissues that help to hold your shoulder joint in place. If these tissues are injured, movement can become unstable or painful, making once normal actions nearly impossible. You can work to prevent rotator cuff injuries and related shoulder and arm injuries during athletics by keeping these tips in mind.
- Start Slow/Warm Up – Your muscles and tissues need time to prepare for the activity to come, so don’t just jump into strenuous overhead arm activities without stretching a bit. You don’t see pitchers heading to the mound without throwing some warm up pitches and you don’t see golfers tee up at the first hole without taking some practice swings, so make sure you do the same. Ease into the activity and help your body prepare by stretching ahead of time.
- Don’t Overdo It Early – Minnesota experiences all four seasons, and that means that we may not be able to play our sport year round. Because of this, we may want to try and squeeze in as many baseball tournaments or rounds of golf as possible while the weather complies. If you put too much stress on your shoulder in a short amount of time, especially early in the season, you’re putting your arm at risk of an overstress injury. Don’t golf 36 holes your first time out or spend 5 hours on the tennis court as soon as the snow thaws. Ease back into season activities.
- Ideal Form – Not only can ideal mechanics make you a better athlete, but it can also help to reduce your risk of injury. If you’re throwing or swinging a racquet with your arms too far away from your body or with a less-than-fluid motion, you could be overloading specific areas of your shoulder, arm, elbow or wrist. Consider taking some lessons or really listen to your coach during practices to ensure that you have the right mechanics for your overhead arm motion. Or better yet, connect with a physical therapist for a deeper analysis of your form.
- Stay Hydrated – Staying hydrated not only helps to prevent potentially painful cramps, but it also helps to boost your circulation and ensures that tissues have the oxygenated blood they need to function when stressed. We lose more fluids when the temperature is warmer and we’re active, so make sure you drink plenty of water when you’re out and about this summer.
- Listen To Your Body – Get in the habit of really listening to what your body is telling you during and after athletic activity. If your shoulder or elbow is sore, ice the area and rest it for a little bit. If something just doesn’t feel right, or you’re noticing new pain, step away from the activity for a few days and see how the area responds upon gradual reintroduction to stress. We treat a lot of athletes who tried to play through a minor injury only to make things worse, so listen to what your body is telling you and proactively treat any minor issues that develop.
- Connect With A Physical Therapist – Finally, if you want to reduce your likelihood of suffering an overhead arm injury, you want to improve your form or you need help overcoming some arm and shoulder discomfort, connect with a physical therapist. Remember, you don’t need a doctor’s referral in Minnesota in order to seek out treatment from a physical therapist, and oftentimes all you need is one or two sessions to make great progress. Let us help you become a better athlete.
For more information, or for help overcoming a different physical issue, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today at (612) 339-2041.