The shoulder is the most mobile of your joints, so it’s no wonder that shoulder injuries are fairly common. Individuals who engage in sports such as swimming and baseball are prone to overuse shoulder injuries more frequently than other sports, with the arm being used in a constant overhead motion.
Shoulder bursitis and tendinitis are two types of overuse injuries that can occur. A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that cushions to prevent friction. When bursitis occurs, the surrounding muscles move over the bursa, which then causes the shoulder to become inflamed and painful.
When shoulder tendinitis happens, the tendons become inflamed and swollen. This is because whenever the arm is raised, tendons are pinched as the archway becomes smaller. This causes the tissue to become inflamed.
How overuse shoulder injuries can occur
- Improper swimming or throwing techniques
- Repetitive overhead motions
- Strenuous training
Treatment for overuse injuries
- Avoid the activity that started the problem by resting.
- Ice the shoulder at least twice a day for 30 to 60 minutes. Apply ice for 15 minutes after any activity using your arm.
- Physical therapy will likely be the key to your treatment. It’s good to perform exercises that will strengthen your shoulder to prevent a recurrence.
- Anti-inflammatory foods and medication may be prescribed by your doctor to relieve pain.
Getting back into your sport
Whenever you return to your sport, get back into it slowly and make sure to warm up appropriately. Over time, you can slowly increase the intensity of the game. For swimmers, it’s a good idea to resist going right back into performing back strokes and butterfly strokes, as they put more of a strain on the shoulder. Any hard swimming sprints should be done before you are fatigued.
To learn more about overuse injuries of the shoulder, click here.