The shoulder is capable of so many movements and positions due to its complex composition of interconnected parts. Your shoulder is comprised of different tendons, muscles, and bones that work together to help you with everyday movements and activities. We use our shoulders to perform hundreds of activities throughout the day without even thinking about it. Because our shoulders are so versatile, we often put our upper body through tremendous amounts of physical challenges and strain throughout our lifetime, especially when playing sports. This is why shoulder pain is one of the leading areas of pain for individuals of all ages. Shoulder pain is one of the most common ailments we treat. While shoulder pain is common for many patients, athletes who play contact and non-contact sports face even more risk of developing shoulder pain in the future due to the amount of wear and tear that comes with so many repetitive movements and stress during athletic activities. We've identified some of the top sports with the most shoulder injuries and some key things you can do to alleviate shoulder pain, reduce the likelihood of future injuries, and recover from previous injuries.
Baseball and softball are two of the sports that have the most prevalent shoulder injuries. In fact, shoulder injuries are the leading cause of injuries for athletes in Major League Baseball. In a recent study, nearly 17% of all injuries sustained by major league baseball players were due to shoulder injuries, with inflammation and overuse as the leading causes. Baseball and softball can be tough sports on your shoulders. Swinging a bat, catching, fielding, throwing, and sliding into bases can put significant wear and tear on your shoulder and its supporting structures. Baseball and softball pitchers suffer the most shoulder injuries as they're often forced to throw a 5-ounce ball as fast and hard as possible up to a hundred times while on the mound, and that's not even counting the warmup pitches before the game or in the bullpen. Professional athletes aren't the only ones who suffer from shoulder injuries either. Adolescent sports can contribute to shoulder pain from an early age, as young baseball and softball players often don't have a fully mature musculoskeletal system, while also lacking a firm grasp of the fundamental techniques of throwing fast, which can add additional wear and tear on the shoulder and exacerbate underlying issues. Some of the most common baseball and softball shoulder injuries that can occur include sprains, rotator cuff injuries, dislocations, strains, bruising, impingement, arthritis, and labral tears.
Football is a physical sport that can put tremendous amounts of stress and tension on the shoulder at any given moment. Nearly every position in football is exposed to shoulder contact. Throwing a block, catching the ball, tackling, being tackled, and passing the ball can cause significant trauma and heavy blows to the shoulder and neck area. Over the years, the game has changed to take strides to reduce the number of injuries with better equipment and an increased number of penalties, but only a few pounds of protection are separating your shoulders from big impacts on each play. Some of the most common football shoulder injuries that can occur include shoulder instability, rotator cuff injuries, tendonitis, tendon tears, and dislocations.
Swimming is a great option for those individuals who are looking for low-impact workouts, but that doesn't make you immune from potential shoulder injuries. Swimming is a much safer option compared to some of the contact sports on our list, but the repetitive motion of swinging your arms above your head against the water does put you at risk of future shoulder injuries. Swimmers often experience shoulder pain or injuries when they've been swimming for extended periods of time. Some of the most common shoulder injuries that can occur from swimming include rotator cuff injuries, impingement, and strains.
Tennis requires each athlete to swing their racquet with force to strike the ball effectively. Whether you're serving the next volley or returning the most recent hit from your playing partner, your shoulders are put through a lot of force with each swing. Tennis matches can last for hours at a time with brief breaks in between each set. The repetitive strain that is placed on your shoulders for hours at a time can lead to significant overuse and inflammation. Some of the most common tennis shoulder injuries include rotator cuff injuries, strains, bursitis, and impingement.
Understanding the most common shoulder injuries and the sports that can cause them is essential to helping you intervene early to make sure that you can spend more time playing the sports you love without pain. One of the most effective ways to reduce the likelihood of sustaining future shoulder injuries is to address the problem head-on. Working with a licensed physical therapist is a great first step to decrease the chances of sustaining a shoulder injury and to alleviate pain. By working with a licensed physical therapist, you'll work to address muscle imbalances, restore proper form, and increase your range of motion with the proper techniques which can help prevent future injuries. We're passionate about helping others enjoy their favorite sports and perform everyday activities without shoulder pain. We help treat a wide array of shoulder injuries with manual therapy techniques including labral tears, impingement, muscular imbalances, sprains, strains, rotator cuff injuries, shoulder arthritis, instability, and much more! Schedule an appointment today with one of our licensed physical therapists near you in one of our hundreds of clinics across the country to treat and alleviate your shoulder pain!