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5 Tips for Preventing Shoulder Impingement

5 Tips for Preventing Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement is a relatively common cause of shoulder pain, especially among athletes and other physically active people. Impingement occurs when the connective tissues (muscles and tendons) inside your shoulder joint become pinched or compressed by the bones that make up the joint. Impingement can make many movements uncomfortable, and you may especially feel pain when you raise your arm above your head or put your arm behind your back.

In addition to athletes, older people are also more prone to shoulder impingement problems, primarily as a result of age-related changes that cause the tendons and other tissues to become more vulnerable to tears, fraying, and inflammation. Although shoulder impingement is certainly treatable, it’s obviously better to avoid the problem altogether when you can. Fortunately, there are some pretty simple steps you can take to help your shoulders stay healthy and strong.

Train smart

One of the top causes of shoulder impingement is improper training, or more specifically, trying to take on too much too quickly rather than giving your shoulder a chance to build up strength. Whether you’re just starting to work out or you’re looking to increase your weights or reps (or taking on a new activity this spring), be sure to start slowly and only increase your activity a bit at a time. And before you start any type of activity, warm up your shoulder muscles with some stretches or simple exercises like arm circles.

Work out all your muscles

Maybe you really want stronger biceps or more prominent chest muscles. Or maybe you’ve taken up an activity that uses just a few isolated muscles. If that’s the case, you could wind up putting a lot of excess and uneven strain on your shoulder joint. That’s because in order to function normally, your shoulder depends on all the muscles that help it move. If some muscles are stronger while others are weaker, your shoulder joint can become unbalanced, and that means it’s much more prone to injury. Excess strain on some parts of your shoulder can lead to inflammation and swelling, which in turn can cause impingement inside the joint. Always try to incorporate exercises that address all the muscles in and around your shoulder to keep things balanced out. Not only can you avoid injury this way, but you can also improve your overall strength, flexibility, and coordination.

Sit up straight

Your mom was right: Good posture is important. Slouching all day over a computer screen or spending a lot of time sitting or standing can result in a lot of shoulder strain. When we slouch or slump, our shoulders “round” forward, putting a lot of uneven stress on our muscles and other tissues and increasing the risk of inflammation in and around the joint. Make it a habit to check your posture, keeping your shoulders back and your neck and shoulder blades straight when you’re sitting, standing, and walking. At your desk, consider elevating your computer so you’re looking straight at the computer screen instead of hunching over it. And while you're at it, make sure you're using the correct form when you're exercising too.

Use ice

It’s easy to shrug off the little aches and pains that can follow a tough workout or strenuous physical activity, but those little bouts of discomfort can add up. And before you know it, you’ve got an inflammation problem. You can prevent minor irritation from turning into major pain with regular application of ice for about 20 minutes after your workout.

Get your rest

Finally, never work out when you’re tired. Unless you’re completely alert and your muscles are rested, you open yourself up to a greater risk of accidents and injuries that otherwise could have been avoided. Don’t forget to stay hydrated too. Hydration keeps your joints and muscles lubricated, and interestingly, it can also prevent you from feeling tired and worn out.

Get relief for your shoulder pain

If you have shoulder pain, don't ignore it. Delaying treatment can just make matters worse, and you might end up doing serious damage to the joint structures. At Fix My Shoulder, Dr. Mufaddal M. Gombera offers comprehensive care for shoulder pain and injuries, helping patients get the treatment they need to avoid complications and enjoy better joint health. To learn what's causing your shoulder pain and how to treat it, book an appointment online today.

  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • Arthroscopy Association of North America
  • American Shoulder And Elbow Surgeons