How to Prevent a Rotator Cuff Tear
A torn rotator cuff is one of the most common shoulder injuries for which people see their doctors.
Patients who are over the age of 60 and young athletes are the most susceptible to a rotator cuff injury.
Prevention is always better than a cure – especially when it comes to joint injuries, because this type of injury can eventually develop into degeneration of the joint and nearby tissues.
So let’s take a look at some of the steps that you can take to prevent a rotator cuff tear.
Exercise the Shoulders Regularly
Gentle exercise can help to strengthen the muscles that make up the rotator cuff.
Several times throughout the day, raise your arms all the way above your head and cup your hands together. Then, keep your hands high and rotate your hands and wrists loosely to help boost circulation. It is also advisable to reach each arm gently over your head to the other side, and hold for a few seconds.
The good thing about these exercises is that you can do them anywhere, even while sitting at your desk. They will not only stretch and strengthen your shoulder muscles but also help to prevent other arm-related issues, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Warm-Up Before Exercise
If you love to play tennis, golf, or another sport that can wreak havoc on the shoulders, it is important that you always warm up before you play and do cool down stretches after you’re done playing.
Stretching out the shoulder muscles should be part of your routine before engaging in any type of exercise or sports in order to prevent injury.
Mind Your Posture
Always try to be aware of your posture when sitting and standing. You can do this by paying attention to see if you tend to lean more forward, or if you push your head forward when sitting or standing.
If so, this hunching forward can alter the position of your shoulder blades and can make you more prone to rotator cuff tears.
Avoid Repeated Overhead Motions
Occupations and sports that require a person to make repetitive overhead motions, such as painters and baseball pitchers, are among the most prone to developing severe rotator cuff tears.
Ask your doctor for ways to minimize stress on your shoulder while doing your job or while playing your sport.
How To Prevent Shoulder Injuries
The most important way to prevent a rotator cuff injury is to see the specialists at Southcoast Medical as soon as you notice any discomfort. This can prevent the injury from becoming more severe.
The second thing you can do to avoid a rotator cuff injury is to try to avoid repetitive-motion injuries by giving yourself breaks during work hours, and throughout the rest of your day.
To avoid sports-related shoulder injuries, make sure that you always warm up and cool down. Baseball pitchers, tennis players, and golfers tend to be more susceptible to a torn rotator cuff, so always listen to your body and don’t push through the pain.
Other ways to prevent rotator cuff injuries include the following:
- Exercise and target both the small and large muscles of the shoulder to strengthen the rotator cuff.
- Keep good posture. Leaning forward with your head and shoulder can cause a shoulder blade problem and may lead to shoulder impingement syndrome.
- Avoid sleeping on your side with your arm stretched overhead. Try not to lie on your shoulder while you sleep.
- Don’t smoke as it decreases blood flow to the rotator cuff.
- Avoid activities with repetitive overhead arm action. Speak to your physical therapist about alternate motions that might be less risky.
- Practice low resistance exercise and introduce more repetitions to gradually strengthen the small muscles of the shoulder without the risk of injury. Keep movements slow and steady.
- Include arm raises to the side with external rotation and rest the shoulder before a workout routine.
- Get frequent massages, and use hot and cold compresses to help reduce inflammation if you feel pain in the shoulder area.
Rotator Cuff Injury Treatments
The treatment you receive will depend on the severity of your shoulder injury. Your doctor will evaluate the integrity of your rotator cuff and advise you on the best course of treatment.
Usually, partial rotator cuff tears can be treated effectively with nonsurgical methods, including:
- Rest and limiting arm movements
- Applying ice regularly for 15- to 20-minute periods
- Over-the-counter or prescription medication to reduce pain and swelling
- Wearing a sling (this shouldn’t be worn for too long, as it can cause shoulder stiffness)
- Corticosteroid injections to reduce pain and inflammation if oral medications fail to work
- Physical and occupational therapy to restore strength and function
Expert Shoulder Specialists in Charleston & Mt. Pleasant, SC.
If you’re experiencing shoulder pains when moving or lifting, it may indicate a rotator cuff injury. There may be a small tear or a full tear in the rotator cuff, so do not hesitate to seek medical help.
At Southcoast Medical we specialize in diagnosing, treating, and preventing injuries and other conditions affecting the shoulder.
We specialize in non surgical treatments for issues throughout the arm area – including the fingers, hands, wrists, arms, elbows, and shoulders. And our training puts us in the best position to treat patients who have active lifestyles and physically demanding occupations.
We welcome all new patients to join us for a personal consultation prior to beginning treatment.
Call us today at 843-990-8390 to schedule your appointment. Or CLICK HERE to easily fill out our online consultation request form
We look forward to helping you maintain the active lifestyle you enjoy!