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Two common shoulder injuries and how to avoid them

Monday, March 21, 2022

Two often occurring shoulder injuries and how to prevent them

These hardworking joints are more susceptible to damage than you may think. Now is the time to safeguard them in order to maintain their independence.

Once we reach our fifties, shoulder issues are common. By that time, the shoulder muscles and tendons have weakened, the cartilage has deteriorated, and the bones have begun to lose density. Two distinct types of shoulder injuries are prevalent in older people.

Injuries to the rotator cuff

The rotator cuff—a set of muscles and tendons that support the shoulder and assist in arm movement—is prone to inflammation and tear.

These injuries frequently occur while carrying a large object above your shoulders, such as when loading luggage into an aeroplane's overhead bin or reaching up to trim tree branches. You rely heavily on your rotator cuff for movement and strength, but those muscles are quite small and weak. They can tear if you apply too much power to them, "Dr Evan O'Donnell, a shoulder surgeon affiliated with Harvard Medical School, concurs.

Other possible causes of rotator cuff injuries include a hard accident or irregular bone growth that pinches tendons when the shoulder moves.

How can you know if you have a rotator cuff injury? "Your range of motion will stay the same, but you will feel pain on the outside of your upper arm, especially when you reach overhead," says Dr. O'Donnell. 

He observes that rotator cuff discomfort is typically worse at night. This could be because your body releases inflammatory substances during sleep. Additionally, it could be that you're sleeping on your shoulder and having difficulty finding a comfortable position, "Dr O'Donnell provides clarification. 

Corticosteroid injections into the shoulder, anti-inflammatory drugs, and physical therapy to stretch and strengthen the shoulder muscles and tendons are all used to treat rotator cuff tears. If such treatments are ineffective in relieving discomfort, we can replace the shoulder joint or even harvest tendons from your back to produce a new rotator cuff, Dr O'Donnell explains.

Try this shoulder stretch

A young man stretching his shoulder.

Internal rotation stretch for the shoulders: Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart and your hands by your sides. At your waist, place the back of your right hand against the small of your back. Raise your index and middle fingers. Slide your right hand as far up your back as possible. Extend your limbs to the point of mild tension. Ten to twenty seconds later, repeat with the other hand.


Shoulder bones (particularly the upper arm and collarbone) are two of the most commonly fractured (broken) bones during a fall. These fractures can result in discomfort, edema, and bruising, as well as a bump at the fracture site, trouble moving your arm, and grinding sounds when you move your arm. 

Numerous shoulder fractures can be treated conservatively. "The arm is sling-mounted, and you'll need to undergo physical therapy to gently extend and strengthen the shoulder," Dr O'Donnell explains. The prognosis is really good. Shoulder pain should subside and range of motion should improve over the next three to six months. "

If you have a complicated fracture, which occurs when a bone is broken in multiple locations and the surrounding tissue is affected, you may require surgery to repair the fracture or replace the shoulder. "It is a substantial procedure that requires physical therapy afterwards." However, the outcomes are satisfactory to exceptional. According to Dr O'Donnell, the majority of people regain their range of motion and are pain-free following surgery. 

What can you do?

The key to preventing shoulder injuries is having healthy, robust, and flexible joints. Numerous ways of accomplishing this are similar to those for reducing fall or fracture risk. Here are a few illustrations.

physical exercise that requires weight-bearing. People who lift light weights or do body-weight exercises, like planks or modified push-ups, can strengthen both their bones and their shoulder muscles.

Stretching. A regular stretching program that includes a warm-up (for example, two minutes of marching in place) is critical for maintaining long, supple muscles that are more capable of reacting swiftly if you lose your balance. Maintaining flexibility in your shoulder muscles and tendons also reduces the likelihood of their rupturing during activity.

Enhancing equilibrium, For example, Tai chi and yoga, for example, involve calm, focused motions that challenge and improve balance, thereby lowering the risk of falling. Additionally, these exercises can help strengthen and extend the shoulder muscles.

Consuming a nutritious diet. A diet rich in colourful vegetables and fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, some poultry and fish, and dairy products (such as yoghurt or cottage cheese) will provide the majority of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients necessary to maintain a healthy body (including the shoulder muscles and bones).

Obtaining an adequate supply of calcium, vitamin D, and protein. These minerals are particularly beneficial for bone health. According to the National Academy of Medicine, women over the age of 51 require 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day, while males over the age of 51 require 1,000 to 1,200 mg per day. Adults over the age of 50 require between 600 and 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily. Multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36 to determine your daily protein requirements in grams.

The extra mile

Additionally, these measures will aid in shoulder protection.

Stretch right before you start your activity. Stretch for a few minutes before engaging in activities that need shoulder strength, such as carrying a large laundry basket or hanging drapes. For two minutes, march in place to get your blood pumping. Then, raise your left hand to the edge of a wall and rotate your torso to the right, feeling a stretch in your armpit. Then attempt it on the opposite side. Now drop your left hand to around shoulder height on the wall. Turn your body to the right until you feel a stretch at the front of your shoulder, then switch sides. "Dr O'Donnell provides guidance. (Also see "Incorporate this shoulder stretch into your routine.")

Carry out a simple shoulder strengthening exercise. Put your right elbow at your waist and your forearm in front of you, as though you're about to shake hands. Swing your hand into your belly, then out to the right as far as you can, back to your belly, then back to the right. an elbow at your waist the entire time. Repeat this procedure ten times, then swap arms. According to Dr O'Donnell, although your shoulder may immediately weary, you will be strengthening the rotator cuff muscles.

At home, eliminate fall dangers. Eliminating dangers decrease your risk of falling. Remove clutter and throw rugs from the floor, ensure adequate lighting in hallways, install grab bars and floor treads in slippery bathrooms, repair damaged steps and loose carpeting, and wear non-slip shoes on hard floors.

Avoid lifting objects that are too heavy to lift overhead. Keep those objects, if possible, at or below your waist. Hug them tightly (wrap your arms around them), rely on your legs for strength, and maintain a straight posture to avoid strain. Lifting heavy objects over your head while holding them away from your body can damage your rotator cuff.


My name is Melody. I am tall and, according to almost everyone I meet, beautiful. Little things make me happy. I like the simple things in life. I am currently exploring Scotland, and I must say it's beautiful. I used to live in Ukraine, but I now reside in Glasgow due to leaving because of the war. I am discovering myself in this new country, working, wearing beautiful dresses, and making the most of life. Did I mention that I speak English, Igbo, and Russian? How are you doing today?

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