5 Tips for Returning to Sports After a Shoulder Injury

Shoulder injuries include sprains, strains, and fractures to any of the components that make up your shoulder, including muscles, tendons, and ligaments, as well as your collarbone, shoulder blade, and upper arm bone. If any of these parts are unstable, weak, torn, or dislocated, your shoulder is impacted. About 7.5 million people visit their doctor for shoulder issues every year.

The most common shoulder injuries include:

  • Rotator cuff tear
  • Dislocation
  • Arthritis
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Bursitis
  • Impingement
  • Fracture

Common causes of shoulder injury are overuse, repetitive use, trauma, or general wear-and-tear of joints and tendons. The earlier your injury is diagnosed, the better your chances of making a full recovery without the injury impacting your life in the long-term.

In most cases, you’ll be able to get back out on the court, field, or pitch after treatment, although it may take some time. To help in your recovery and get you back to your sport as quickly as possible, the providers at the Arizona Center for Hand to Shoulder Surgery have put together this list of five tips to get you back in the game.

1. If it hurts, don’t do it

If your shoulder still hurts, wait. It’s important for your shoulder injury to fully heal before you return to your active lifestyle. If you rush your recovery, you risk re-injuring your shoulder or not regaining its full range of motion and strength.

Be sure to give yourself enough time to rest and treat your injury, whether through physical therapy, cortisone injections, or surgery. Only return to sports when the pain and inflammation are gone.

2. Make your comeback slowly  

As with any type of injury, you shouldn’t return to your sport with full force. Start off slowly and build your intensity back up. It takes time to rebuild your strength and mobility. If you don’t start slowly, you risk re-injury.

3. Strengthen your shoulder muscles

To remain injury-free, you need to strengthen the muscles that support your shoulder. Work with a physical therapist and your doctor to develop a strengthening and exercise program to help get your shoulder back in shape and prevent future injuries.

It’s also important to stick with your program even after your injury has healed to ensure that your shoulder stays strong, stable, and mobile.

4. Get into the habit of warming up and cooling down

When you were younger, you could probably get away with jumping right onto the field or into the game and running straight to the showers afterward. You probably didn’t give much thought to warming up and cooling down your muscles.

Well, those days are over! It’s important to practice dynamic stretches, which means stretching your muscles while moving them, before your activity. Warm muscles are happy muscles, and stretching them after your workout also helps prevent injury and cramping.

5. Stay in shape all year round

Practicing healthy habits like getting plenty of rest, fluids, and healthy foods during your active season as well as the offseason helps your shoulder and the rest of your body stay strong and injury-free.

For more information about shoulder injuries and how and when to return to your sport after treatment, call the Arizona Center for Hand to Shoulder Surgery with offices in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona, or book an appointment online.

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