Returning to Sports After a Rotator Cuff Injury

Though often caused by repetitive strain-type injuries over time, you can also damage your rotator cuff in a single incident. As well as sports participation, this type of shoulder injury is also common for people whose jobs require frequent overhead motions, such as painters or plasterers. 

When you’re bothered by shoulder pain, it’s time to contact Jersey Integrative Health and Wellness for examination, diagnosis, and treatment. Problems with the rotator cuff, a collection of soft tissues that support your shoulder joint, can create long-lasting pain and mobility issues if left untreated. Their orthopedists are shoulder injury specialists and the practice is fully equipped to help you overcome your rotator cuff injury. 

Sports and your shoulder

You can suffer a rotator cuff injury at any age, but when you’re over 40, you’re subjected to an increased risk. As you get older, your soft tissue is less elastic, drier, and easily compromised.

Sports that involve repetitive shoulder movements also increase your risk of a rotator cuff injury. This includes archers, tennis players, quarterbacks, and pitchers, but your shoulder may also develop trouble after a single traumatic injury, such as when you’re tackled or if you fall onto an outstretched arm. Single traumatic injuries usually result in a serious rotator cuff tear, rather than strain or damage from repetitive motion. 

Types of damage

The rotator cuff is made up of soft tissues including tendons, muscles, and a cushioning bursa sac. You may tear the tendon partially — so it’s not completely severed — or fully. A full tear means you’ve separated the tendon from the bone. Bone growths can also interfere with muscle movement, an injury called impingement. 

Soft tissue can take time to repair, so you have to be cautious and conservative when returning to sports. Getting back into the game too soon can reinjure the area.

Ease into recovery

If you’ve had surgery for a full cuff tear, you’ll undergo physical therapy to help you restore normal movement. This includes follow-up exercises and movements that you’ll continue at home. Follow the sequences and repetitions as instructed. Even if the movements seem passive or too simple, they’re a critical part of healthy recovery.

Physical therapy starts with small movements to help you develop stability and range of motion. With time, you regain functional movement. Treatment will be matched to your movement goals, according to the sport you play.

Follow the plan

Your recovery encompasses limiting all shoulder movement, not just avoiding those from your sport or vocation. Certain movements can interfere with rotator cuff healing and could delay your return to sports. 

Avoid lifting heavy objects or putting weight on your shoulders. Also, don’t reach behind your body or raise your arms overhead. Even moving your arms out to the side can compromise healing. Wear a shoulder sling if prescribed to help keep you from accidentally overworking the shoulder.

The way you sleep also matters. Prop yourself up with pillows as you sleep to avoid lying on your back or the affected shoulder’s side.

Rotator cuff injuries can take months to heal. Rushing recovery may mean a quick trip back to the sidelines. Your caregiver at Jersey Integrative Health and Wellness is your partner in recovery, with the same motivation as you, to get back in the game with a healthy shoulder. 

Contact the closest office of Jersey Integrative Health and Wellness by phone or using the online booking tool to schedule your initial consultation and examination today. 

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