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How to Protect Your Shoulder from Injury

When you hear about exercise, you automatically think about its advantages. Exercise is associated with improved physical fitness, positive mental health, and even a direct correlation with overall life satisfaction.

All these salient benefits, however, often overshadow the ironic yet very real fact that people also risk injury when participating in physical exercise. This is not to scare anyone away from the amazing benefits of exercise, as the rewards far outweigh the risk; however, having a working knowledge of the potential risk is also an important factor to minimizing and mitigating injury while exercising.

A common injury associated with physical training is shoulder damage— a prevailing issue among those who engage in weight training and lifting exercises.

What Causes Shoulder Damage?

In most cases, signs and symptoms of shoulder damage don’t manifest immediately. Many individuals navigating through their daily routine think that they’re doing everything right. But more often than not, it’s these assumptions that can lead to developing shoulder problems after engaging in lifting exercise for a few years.

The most common causes of this not-so-uncommon exercise problem include the following:

  • Not following the proper form in certain exercises
  • Selecting the wrong exercise
  • Overexertion of the muscles
  • Engaging in a faulty exercise program

Of course, other causes of shoulder damage are not necessarily exercise-related. The following factors can also directly or indirectly hurt your shoulders:

  • The natural aging process
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Damage in your rotator cuffs
  • Swelling of the pads that cushion your joints, also called bursitis
  • Dislocation
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Heart problems

Shoulder Damage Treatment and Prevention

Treatments of shoulder pain or injury vary depending on the cause. If it’s a simple fracture or dislocation, treatment may include putting your shoulder back in place or wearing an uncomfortable sling for a set period. However, please note that both injuries should be addressed, corrected, and monitored by a licensed medical practitioner.

Your primary care provider (PCP) may also recommend that you rest or use pain relievers to help alleviate the pain. For more serious problems, like rotator-cuff tears, your PCP may recommend surgery.

Fortunately, there are preventive measures that you can employ to avoid or reduce risk of injury in your exercise routine. These measures are simple yet high-impact actions that can be applied not only to shoulder care but also to your overall health.

Your Body Is Your Best Gauge

It’s normal to feel fatigued after strenuous activity, but listen to your body.  Muscle soreness usually goes away after a few days. In this case, pain relief patches or normal over-the-counter pain medications are commonly used.

However, if you notice that the pain is recurrent, never ignore it. Consult your PCP immediately for a proper diagnosis of the cause of pain before the situation warrants more aggressive treatment.

Exercise Right

A warm-up is always key. If it’s your first time getting into an exercise routine or you have not exercised in a while, ease into your new program to gradually build up your physical comfort for doing more demanding movements.

Another consideration that is given less emphasis than it should is whether to use a machine as part of your exercise routine. While some machines are marketed for their safety advantage,

that’s not always the case. In some instances there are superior machines that offer a better alternative.

A notable example of this is from the study conducted by Wolkodoff and Eichenberger (2016) on the use of Smith Machines as alternatives to free bar exercises. The comprehensive study shows that, in fact, Smith Machines are not a reasonable substitute and the advent of the more advanced Jones Machines offer a better choice when it comes to training and pushing your limits.

Always ask a licensed fitness professional when crafting a thorough fitness program you can rely on.

Maintain Good Posture

Maintaining good posture has multiple benefits. It helps improve your circulation and digestion, provides adequate back support, and helps you portray a more confident image.

Having correct posture also keeps your bones and joints in proper alignment so your muscles can be used correctly. This decreases the possibility of joint wear, which results in arthritis and joint pain.

The good news is, once you realize that you may have been slouching your whole life, it’s not too late to change your old habits and improve your posture and your health. Reap the benefits of proper posture with these simple and doable tips.

Practice Mobility Exercises

Mobility exercises are primarily directed at improving performance and reducing pain. In terms of shoulder care, mobility exercises help maintain the stability of your shoulder structure so it keeps functioning at peak performance.

Mobility exercises for your shoulders are very simple and involve tools that require minimal to no assistance, like resistance bands and dumbbells. Here’s a great shoulder mobility exercise routine you can follow.

Final Word

Exercise has its own pros and cons. Injuries do happen, but many of them are completely preventable. The more you know about correct exercise, machine handling, and your own body, the less you will be at risk for injuries such as shoulder damage.

Keep these tips in mind to reap the most out of your regular exercise.

Written By Guest Fitness Blogger Lauren Hale
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