After taking it easy during the cold winter months, many athletes are eager to swing into spring sports as soon as the temperatures being to rise. But with this new-found enthusiasm comes an increased risk of shoulder injuries. Spring sports like golf, tennis and baseball place a great deal of stress on the shoulders, and without proper training and conditioning, athletes can easily find themselves sitting out the remainder of the season.
As with any type of sport, it’s important to understand your risk for certain types of injuries and develop a training plan to prevent them. Some of the most common shoulder injuries in spring sports include:
Rotator Cuff Strain or Tear
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint while providing flexibility and a wide range of motion. Repetitive, forceful actions, such as a golf swing or fast pitch, can cause these muscles to tear, resulting in pain, weakness and joint stiffness. Minor rotator cuff injuries often heal with rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and hot/cold therapy. More serious injuries may require surgery to repair the torn tendons and reattach them to the bone.
Shoulder impingement occurs when tendons in the shoulder become compressed or “impinged” by the acromion, a bony process at the end of the shoulder blade. Symptoms include shoulder weakness, difficulty reaching behind the back and pain that occurs when the affected arm is extended overhead. Shoulder impingement often occurs as the result of repetitive overhead activity such as pitching a baseball or swinging a tennis racket.
Tendinitis, or inflammation of a tendon, is a common overuse injury that results from repetitive movements or doing too much activity without proper conditioning. Symptoms of shoulder tendinitis include pain in the affected tendon and surrounding area and loss of movement in the shoulder, often called frozen shoulder.
SLAP stands for superior labrum, anterior to posterior, and it describes a type of injury that occurs in the labrum, a ring of tissue that supports the shoulder socket. Baseball pitchers are particularly at risk for this type of injury due to repeated throwing. However, SLAP tears can also result from falling on the shoulder or outstretched arm. A SLAP tear will often produce a catching or locking sensation in the shoulder. Other symptoms may include pain, weakness, decreased range of motion, and the feeling that the shoulder is popping out of joint (Source: WebMD).