It is probably safe to say that virtually anyone who has been practicing high impact sports or worked out for more than two or three years has experienced shoulder pain at one time or another. More than any other joint, the shoulder seems to be particularly prone to injury, both chronic and acute. Once shoulder pain has set in, even routine daily tasks, such as putting on a shirt overhead or shampooing in the shower, becomes burdensome. Training seems beyond the bounds of possibility, since nearly all movements involve the shoulder in varying degrees. Even squatting can aggravate shoulder problems.
The glenohumeral joint, where the head of the humerus attaches to the shoulder complex, is a ball-and-socket type joint, but unlike the hip, it is quite shallow; so much that the bones contribute little to the joint’s stability. That role falls onto the surrounding muscles and their tenuous attachments, as well as the capsular ligaments.
Always remember that the shoulder’s forte is mobility, not stability. The second structural factor leading to shoulder dysfunction is the enormous leverage that can be applied to the shallow glenohumeral joint by the arm.
Sports-Related Shoulder Injuries
In many sports, including skating, soccer, football, wrestling and baseball, falling is inevitable. During a fall, the hand instinctively reaches out to brake the fall, decelerating the body’s downward movement with the arm outstretched. This instinctive reaction creates a long lever, which results in tremendous mechanical forces on the glenohumeral joint-fulcrum, often leading to injuries ranging from strains and sprains of the surrounding muscles and ligaments to subluxation (less than a full dislocation) or, in the word-case scenario, dislocation of the joint.
Not just in the sense of throwing a ball, but also any hitting or swinging (such as a tennis serve or hitting a baseball) movement is essentially an attempt to separate the glenohumeral joint, in biomechanics terms. During any throwing movement, the rotator cuff muscle group is responsable for decelerating the arm after the object has been released. Since many individuals have very weak rotator cuff and posterior deltoids as compared to the anterior shoulder muscles, the deceleration aspect of the throw often results in strain and sprains of the shoulder’s soft tissues. specially those of the rotator cuff.
Football, boxing, wrestling, soccer, basketball and various other sports involve direct, and often violent, impact to the shoulder and arm. Direct blows to the upper arm in particular tear the glenohumeral joint apart, creating injuries ranging from micro traumatic soft tissue injuries to shoulder separations. Additionally, multiple shoulder injuries steaming from years of athletic participation often result in adhesion, loss of range of motion, calcium deposits, and degenerative changes to the joint itself. With each new injury, the shoulder becomes both more prone to, as well as less capable of, withstanding further injuries.
Besides the sport related injuries mentioned, you can also can severely injury your shoulder from weight training sessions. Another big topic we will cover in other occasion. One of the most popular shoulder injury comes from bench pressing. Many amateur bodybuilders sometimes, out of ignorance, train very poorly and end up visiting an orthopedic surgeon.
The solutions for shoulder pain and/or injury vary based on each particular case. If you have any symptoms or have injured your shoulder don’t hesitate to contact a doctor as soon as possible. Now, if you reside in Naples please feel free to contact us so we can help guide you in the right direction.
Orthopedic Corner | Leon Mead MD Orthopedic Doctor | 730 Goodlette Road North, Suite 201 Naples Florida 34102 | Phone: (239) 262-1119