A high school athlete should never shrug off a shoulder injury. The shoulder is one of the most important joints on the body. Athletes need the shoulder to throw a ball or other object, block an opponent, maintain their balance, and so on. Unfortunately, all of these activities can result in a variety of shoulder injuries, ranging from slight to major. The key is to recognize such injuries, treat them properly, and to the best of a high school athlete’s ability-prevent them.
What makes the shoulder joint special? One of its main features is that there’s less bone-to-bone contact within the shoulder joint, than with other joints in the human body. What does that mean? There’s a greater dependence on muscle, cartilage, and so on, in reducing the impact of stress on the joint’s motion. And that means that there’s a greater risk of soft tissue becoming damaged. The shoulder’s bones include the humerus, the shoulder blade, and the collarbone. Arguably, the breastbone should also be included as a shoulder bone. Essentially the shoulder consists of four different joints that function as one unit.
Different causes of shoulder injuries exist. One is an overhead motion. This involves the athlete’s hand and forearm being stretched as far as possible from the body. Another major cause of shoulder injuries in high school athletes is repetitive movement. This can result in injuries such as rotator cuff injury, tendinitis, and over time–osteoarthritis. Another shoulder injury involves a shoulder being struck, such as via a shock or a fall.
A rotator cuff injury is particularly common in high school sports, which it occurring most frequently among baseball pitchers. Other common athletes who experience it include golfers, swimmers, and football quarterbacks. Shoulder injuries can also include a dislocated shoulder, a separated shoulder, and the most common shoulder fracture: fractured collarbone.
One of the most crucial steps to take after suffering from an acute shoulder injury is to rest the shoulder. And if certain movements are causing the pain, the high school athlete should cease those movements immediately! Within the first three days after suffering the injury, the athlete should ice the shoulder for 20 minutes, on multiple occasions throughout the day.
Then he or she should seek assistance from a physical therapist. Within time, the athlete should start doing some basic motions needed in the sport, at a gradual pace. More severe shoulder injuries will require one or more operations. These operations can be quite complex (and pricey), so an athlete should first consult his or her physician before undergoing an operation.
The good news is that you can take steps to reduce your likelihood of suffering from shoulder injuries. For instance, you can increase the strength and flexibility of your upper body. Also, when using your upper body to perform certain movements in your support, make sure to use the correct body mechanics. That will not only help to prevent shoulder injuries, but will also improve the quality of your game! And finally, always perform stretches and warm-ups before a practice session, game, or match.