Preventing Shoulder/Rotator Cuff Injuries

Happy 2013! Hope everyone had a happy and healthy holiday season.  As you begin to start your New Years resolutions, I wanted to start off the new year by giving you some great tips on a very common injury.

Rotator cuff injuries are one of the more common musculoskeletal injuries in men around their 40s and 50s.  There are a variety of reasons why rotator cuff injuries come about.  Sleeping on an outstretched arm for several years can wear away the shoulder joint creating arthritic or degenerative joint changes possibly resulting in a rotator cuff tear. Also, in an occupation where you are frequently working with your hands and shoulders for years (i.e. carpenter, painter) can impact the shoulder joint resulting in a rotator cuff tear too.  Lastly, previous histories of broken clavicles (collarbones) can make the shoulder joint more susceptible to wear-and-tear and eventual tears.  The space where the supraspinatus tendon travels to attach in the front of the shoulder is between 2-2.5 cm.  Because of its small distance, overusing the shoulder doing repetitive activities can make you more susceptible to injury.  Below will be some tips to avoid a serious rotator cuff injury.

1) Try to avoid sleeping on an outstretched arm.

  • Most of us who go to bed are going to fall asleep in the position that’s most comfortable.  But over time, activating the rotator cuff while you are sleeping, will eventually lead to changes in the shoulder joint and possibly injury.  This particular behavior will take time and patience (you may even have a few rough nights of sleep in the beginning).  In the end, you will save yourself time, money and missed time away from both your family and work because you have kept your shoulder healthy.

2) Work on keeping good posture while at work and at home

  • Making sure you are not sitting and/or standing with your shoulders rolled forward, your neck protruding forward and upper body slumped/stooped will avoid putting a lot of stress and tension on the muscles around your neck, shoulders, and rotator cuff.  It is difficult to keep track of your posture each and everyday, but work on it slowly.  If you are noticing your posture while at work, sit at the back on the chair with your feet flat on the floor (if you work at a computer most of the day).  Also, if you have been working at your desk for several hours in the same position, get up and move around for a few minutes to decrease the stiffness and loosen up.

3) Strengthen mid-back and rotator cuff muscles

  • Working on exercises to strengthen the mid-back muscles (between your shoulder blades-Rhomboid Minor and Major, Serratus Posterior Superior), middle and lower back muscles (latissimus dorsi muscle), and rotator cuff (subscapularis muscle) to bring your shoulders back, and to reduce the tension on the rotator cuff.  Also, stretching your chest muscles (pec minor and major) for at least 40 seconds and doing this several times on each side help to decrease tight muscle spasms in your chest and shoulders.

Stay tuned for next’s month blog! Happy New Year to everyone from Lincoln Park Chiropractic!

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