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How to Prevent Rotator Cuff Tears

How to Prevent Rotator Cuff Tears

They’re the words no baseball fan wants to hear about the star pitcher: “He has a rotator cuff injury.” Problems with the rotator cuff — which affect all baseball players but most frequently in pitchers — are extremely common in a sport that sees players use their shoulders in throwing and batting motions. 

But these injuries aren’t just for the pros. Experts estimate that about 2-4 million Americans suffer through a rotator cuff injury every year. That’s a lot of people dealing with shoulder pain. 

While rotator cuff tears may be unavoidable in certain situations, you can take steps to prevent them before and after you exercise or participate in an activity that uses your shoulder heavily. 

Do you have shoulder pain that makes it hard to lift your arm or get a good night’s sleep? If so, come in to see the team at Kai Sports Medicine in Little Silver, New Jersey. Dr. Zachary Perlman, a board certified internal medicine and primary care sports medicine specialist, is an expert on shoulder injuries.

In this blog, he focuses on rotator cuff tears and what you can do to prevent an injury. 

How rotator cuff tears occur

The rotator cuff is the group of tendons and muscles that connect your arm and shoulder and allow you to raise your arm. Baseball players, tennis players, swimmers, quarterbacks, and some track-and-field athletes are prone to rotator cuff tears. 

There are two types of rotator cuff tears, acute and degenerative. An acute tear occurs from a sudden injury like a fall, car accident, or lifting incident. Degenerative tears develop over time, either from repetitive use or aging. 

Preventing rotator cuff tears

You can take steps to prevent tears caused by repetitive use and overuse.

Warm up

Good warmup exercises include jogging, using a stationary bike, or doing jumping jacks. Anything that gets your heart rate up without extensive shoulder movement is a good idea.

Once your muscles are warm, stretch before any activity that involves heavy rotator cuff use. This reduces tension across your shoulder joint, improves flexibility, and improves blood flow to the muscles of the rotator cuff. 

Watch your technique

Proper technique not only improves performance, but also can protect your body. If you’re new to a sport, take time to learn the right way to move — just because you swing a tennis racquet one way doesn’t mean you should do the same with a baseball bat. Established athletes can try to tweak their form to adopt methods that put less stress on their rotator cuff. 

Take a break

No matter how tough you are, you need to listen to your body. If shoulder pain starts to creep into your life — like when it interferes with sleep or lingers days after exercise — it may be time to take a couple of weeks off. 

Partial degenerative tears can heal on their own when given the time. If you have a history of rotator cuff injuries, ice and anti-inflammatory medication should follow every big shoulder or rotator cuff workout. 

Don’t live with rotator cuff pain

Are you experiencing shoulder pain? To get an accurate diagnosis and learn about treatment options for your shoulder injury, call 732-369-9765 to book an appointment with Kai Sports Medicine. You can also request an appointment through this website.

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