Football players are susceptible to shoulder injuries due to the physicality of the sport. Whether the shoulder is absorbing impact from contact or the ground, it’s easy for the delicate joint to become damaged.
While it’s difficult to avoid should injuries in the game of football, there are a few preventative measures that could help you reduce the risk.
Rotator Cuff Exercises
The most important way to prevent shoulder injuries is to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles. The four rotator cuff muscles provide stability to the shoulder, so it’s crucial that they are strong to avoid tears or overused. These simple rotator cuff exercises are done using resistance bands.
Set the band up on a fixed object at mid sternum height, so you’re pulling a straight line. Stand up straight and place your elbow by your side bent at a 90 degree angle. Grip the band with your thumb pointed up with your forearm across your body. Pull the band by rotating your shoulder outward and moving your forearm away from the body, keeping your elbow fixed at your side. Rotate out as far as possible. Hold the position for two counts and return to the starting position.
This exercise is similar to external rotation, but instead of pulling the band outward and away, you’ll be pulling it inward. Start out by gripping the band with your thumb pointed up and your forearm pointing away from the body. Then, rotate your shoulder in and bring your forearm to your body, keeping your elbow fixed at your side. Hold the position for two counts and return to the starting position.
Shoulder injuries often occur from pushing too hard. Don’t over-train if pain or discomfort develops. Pay attention to your body and what it’s telling you when exercising.
It’s important to be in great shape overall for the football season in order to avoid shoulder injuries. Follow a balanced fitness program that includes aerobic exercise, strength training and flexibility. Remember to warm up and stretch before practices and games so your muscles are loose and therefore, will not tear as easily as if they were tight. Cool down and stretch after your practices or games as well to avoid tight muscles.
To prevent overuse injuries in the shoulder, such as rotator cuff tears, do shoulder exercises that increase gradually in intensity, duration and frequency.
Wearing the appropriate protective equipment and padding is essential in preventing shoulder injuries. Make sure that your equipment fits properly because it will be ineffective if it doesn’t. Examine your padding each season and try it on to make sure that it’s in good shape and fits correctly.
These helpful tips can strengthen and protection your shoulders to reduce risk of injury. However, sometimes shoulder injuries do occur. If you’re experiencing pain caused by trauma to the shoulder from a tackle or a fall, rest your shoulder, apply ice as necessary, and contact your doctor.
It’s common for athletes who have suffered a shoulder injury to return to the game before the injury has fully healed. If you’re not completely recovered, the chances of you getting injured again increase drastically. Make sure your symptoms are gone and you’re back to normal before returning to the game.
For more information on shoulder injuries, download our eBook, The Pre-Operative Guide to Shoulder Surgery, or set up a consultation with one of our physicians at Premier Orthopaedics.