A rotator cuff injury can be painful and debilitating for men and women of all ages. It can get in the way of your exercise routine, grocery shopping, or getting dressed. A tear can be small, or severe enough that you’ll need surgery to repair it. Dr. Steven E. Nolan, an orthopedic surgeon in Sugar Land, Texas, offers these five techniques to protect your rotator cuff.
1. Stretch and strengthen
One of the easiest ways to protect the rotator cuff is to warm up before exercise. Slowly get your muscles ready to work instead of making them work when they’re cold. Warming up increases blood flow to your shoulder and improves flexibility, too.
Strengthen your rotator cuff by lifting weights and avoiding repetitive motion. Be sure to focus on the large and small muscles in the rotator cuff to avoid injury.
2. Take care of any injuries right away
When your shoulder hurts, it’s a sign to slow down and take it easy for a while. Take a break from playing sports for a few days to give yourself a chance to heal. We know it’s hard to skip the pick-up basketball game with your buddies or to stay home on Saturday morning when you normally golf. But trust us, it’s for the best. Don’t risk a more serious injury by trying to do too much, too soon.
3. Help your body heal faster
When your body is at a healthy weight, there’s less pressure on your bones and joints. When you drink water and eat a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, your cells can function normally. When you don’t smoke, your tissues can repair faster. When you get enough sleep, your body can recover from all the daily stressors we put it through. By focusing on overall health, you lower your chances of getting injured.
4. Don’t overdo it
If you’re a weekend warrior, you could be setting yourself up for injury by doing too much all at once. Are you in a sports league? Are you renovating your house or doing major yard work? It’s okay to do all these things as long as you’re smart about it. Rest your arms when they feel tired, use ice to control inflammation, and take some over-the-counter pain relievers if necessary. Try to spread the project out over two weekends if you can. It will help!
5. Listen to your body
If you rest your shoulder for a few days but that doesn't help, it may be time to see Dr. Nolan for a comprehensive shoulder exam. He assesses your range of motion and pain level, and he may order a cat scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to get the complete picture. The important thing to remember is to listen to your body so you don’t make your rotator cuff injury worse.
There’s no reason to live with limited mobility or shoulder pain any longer. Make an appointment with Dr. Nolan to learn whether or not you have a rotator cuff injury, and to explore your treatment options. Request an appointment online or call 281-720-6910 today.