Shoulder injuries are a common occurrence in all age groups. Every major sport, home activity or work task involves using your arms and shoulders in some manner. Although increased use may equate to increased strength and functionality, it may also be associated with increased risk of injury to the shoulder area and the surrounding musculature.
The shoulder may be injured:
- As a primary mover in repetitive movements such as swimming strokes, scrubbing motions, or throwing movements that can cause overuse conditions or an acute stress injury.
- As result of its use as a stabilizer, which occurs with movements of the hand and trunk.
- As a result of trauma, such as falling on an outstretched arm or during a car accident where the seatbelt forcefully restrains the shoulder region.
The shoulder joint is very complex and there are a number of muscles that may be affected when injury occurs. Although the cause of injury may vary from person to person, what happens after the injury in terms of repair, rehabilitation, and strengthening will often be similar.
Even well-conditioned athletes suffer shoulder injuries. Although you can strengthen the shoulder area, as well as increasing the range of motion and conditioning the area, there is no guarantee against injury or accident.
Preventative work, including strengthening and increasing the range of motion, can minimize damage and the time required to return to activity in the event of an injury.
The goal of a preventative or rehabilitation program is to maintain, improve or return the shoulder area to the highest level of activity reasonably possible with minimal risk of injury.
A strengthening or rehabilitation program is dependent on the specific activities of the individual. The rehabilitation professional must design a functional program to replicate the demands and activities of the individual’s daily life. The effects of immobilization must be minimized through stabilization, strengthening and range of motion exercises as soon as possible after injury or surgery. The healing tissue should never be over stressed during the initial rehabilitation phase. The strengthening and rehabilitation program should be progressive, systematic, functional, and science-based.