Combating Shoulder Pain in Contact Sports

Combating Shoulder Pain in Contact Sports

Football season is upon us, and the NFL injury report is already filled with players suffering from shoulder distress.

You don’t have to be a professional football player to know that shoulder pain is a serious issue in all contact sports; from hockey, boxing, and even soccer. When a joint has so much freedom of movement, the probability of things to be wrong increases.

So how can you prevent shoulder injury from happening to you? Read on to learn more.

Why it Happens

There are a variety of reasons why shoulder pain occurs.

Lack of muscle strength can cause stress on shoulder joints, even when minimal force is exerted. When shoulders can’t handle a load, they call on help from surrounding muscles in the back, arms, and neck.

This leads to poor body mechanics over time, and possible injury in other nearby muscles.

If the strength is there, overuse can also lead to chronic pain. When muscle groups are continually used without proper rest and recovery, the probability of injury is bound to increase.

Yet why are shoulder injuries so common? This ball-and-socket joint has a uniquely wide range of movement compared to other parts of the musculoskeletal system.

The tradeoff for more freedom is less support. Less joint support means more chances for things to go wrong.

Shoulder Pain Prevention

If you play a sport or perform a work task that requires daily use of shoulder muscles, ongoing preventative measures are necessary. For sports, this starts in the pre-season.

In the pre-season, spend time doing strengthening exercises for the particular muscle groups you will be using the most.

Take a holistic approach to training. If you’re putting in maximum effort into your practice sessions, put that same amount of effort into recovery. Intentionally make time to stretch sore muscles and rest.

Compression can also help ward off pain. Wearing a compression top during training can increase blood flow and reduce inflammation.

Lastly, improper body mechanics are where most injuries start. Muscles in sport require the synchronic firing of all groups. Work with a coach on the basic movements of your sport. Master the basics before attempting more complicated motions.

What to Do When it Happens

If you do happen to suffer from shoulder pain, follow the RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) method for recovery.

When swelling and pain have subsided, ease back into rehabilitating stretches. Yoga is also a good recovery exercise for neck and shoulder pain.

Avoid resting on the affected area as it may prolong pain and inflammation.

When to See a Specialist

Given the complexity of the muscles in this area, we recommend seeing a specialist for any shoulder pain. Experts can pinpoint affected muscles, assign injury-specific solutions, and create recovery plans.

You only have one body, and it’s up to you to take care of it. Reach out to learn more about how we can help you on your recovery journey.