Shoulder Pain After Lifting Something Heavy
The muscles that help you move your shoulders are called deltoids and they come in two parts — front and back. The front part is called anterior deltoid while the back part is called posterior deltoid. These muscles are attached at their base on the spine. They also have three heads and four separate muscle groups (anterior, middle and posterior).
Rotator Cuff Muscles
In addition to these main components, there are several other important structures associated with the shoulders. One of them is the supraspinatus tendon which runs under the outer layer of skin over the front side of the shoulder. This tendon helps hold the upper arm bone together. Another one is the infraspinatus tendon which runs underneath the supraspinatus tendon along the inside of the arm. Together this pair of tendons form what’s known as the superior capsule. The inferior portion is made up of the teres major tendon, teres minor tendon and coracobrachialis tendon. And lastly there is the long head of biceps brachii tendon running beneath the clavicle (collarbone) and attaching to the superior capsule.
These various tendons and ligaments work together to stabilize the shoulder joint so it doesn’t move around too much during everyday activities like walking, eating, reaching and lifting objects. When someone tries to do something like pick something up off the floor, however, the force exerted on the shoulder has the potential to tear or injure some of these supporting structures.
How does this injury occur? There are two different ways in which this could happen. One way is if you try to lift something really heavy with only one hand. If you’re not strong enough to keep the weight steady without letting it fall down onto your shoulder, then you may end up accidentally dropping the object. Or you might just want to take a break for a moment and go get yourself another item to carry. But when you return to what you were doing before, you will suddenly feel pain or discomfort in your shoulder area because the load was dropped on top of your already-stressed shoulder.
Another way this can happen is from falling down or being pushed down. For example, let’s say you’re playing football in high school or college. You’ve got the ball in your hands and you’re about to run toward the goal line, but all of sudden someone pushes you hard from behind. Now instead of getting tackled, you tumble forward into the ground. While lying there, you realize that the momentum caused by the fall actually dislodged your collarbone. Your shoulder didn’t even touch the ground!
There are many different types of injuries that people who play sports such as baseball, basketball, softball and football are susceptible to. Some of them involve bones and joints, others involve muscles. Rotator cuff tears are among the most common ones suffered by athletes. In fact, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, more than half of all professional athletes suffer from some type of injury that affects the shoulder within five years of beginning their athletic careers.
Fortunately, there are things that can be done to treat these injuries once they become apparent. First of all, if you think you may have been hurt, it’s best to consult with a doctor right away. A specialist can determine whether or not you have a complete tear of the rotator cuff. Treatment options include rest, physical therapy, cortisone injections, surgery, platelet rich plasma injection and acupuncture. Most patients choose to undergo surgical repair of the affected rotator cuff rather than opting for non-surgical treatments. However, there are still cases where non-surgical methods can successfully relieve pain and improve function.
If you don’t want to wait until a full tear occurs, there are steps you can take to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles and reduce your risk of developing a partial or full tear. Exercises should always be performed under medical supervision and guidance, especially if you have any existing health conditions. As mentioned previously, the rotator cuff stabilizes the shoulder so it won’t move around too much, but since we use our arms constantly throughout the day, our shoulders need to remain stable and healthy in order to avoid injury.
Here are 10 easy exercises for strengthening the rotator cuff muscles:
1. Push Up – Lie face down on the floor with your elbows bent 90 degrees and palms flat on the floor beside your ears. Press your chest upward toward the ceiling and raise your body as far as possible. Repeat 20 times.
2. Bent Knee Tuck – Lie face down on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend both knees and bring your feet closer together. Raise your hips off the floor and then lower them back down again. Do this 15 times.
3. Side Reach Across – Sit in a chair with your legs stretched out. Place your left elbow on the seatback next to your body and place your right leg across the edge of the chair. Keep your foot firmly planted against the seat so that your knee stays straight. Hold your left elbow with your right hand and stretch your right arm across your body to the opposite side. Repeat 30 times.
4. Lateral Stepups – Stand facing a bench that is approximately 2 feet (0.6 meters) away. Take a step sideways that is equal distance between your feet. Bring your left foot up to the bench and then jump up and land on your right foot. Repeat this process 5 times on each leg. Then switch sides and repeat the same thing on the other side.
5. Seated Tricep Extension – Get into a sitting position with your back straight and buttocks positioned directly above your heels. Grasp a dumbbell in your right hand. Lift your torso up to a 45 degree angle. Lower your torso back down and repeat 10 times. Switch arms and repeat 10 times.
6. Standing Tricep Dips – Stand erect with your feet shoulder width apart. Swing your arms overhead to the outside of your thighs. Once your arms are completely extended, bend your elbows to make a steep incline. Lower your arms back down slowly until the tops of your fingers reach your ankles. Alternate dipping your fingers into your ankle pit and then extending your arms out fully. Perform 10 repetitions per set.
7. Dumbbell Shoulder Shrug – Grab a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your elbows close to your body, shrug your shoulders upwards and backward as far as possible. Hold for 3 seconds and release. Repeat this 8 times. Make sure that your shoulders stay relaxed during this exercise.
8. Dumbbell Frontal Lunge Forward – Stand erect with your feet shoulder width apart and holding dumbbells in front of your chest. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and lean slightly forward. Lower your butt down and extend your arms out in front of you. Rise up back up through your hips and push your rear heel outward. Repeat 12 times.
9. Dumbbell Backward Lunges – Stand erect with your feet shoulder width apart and holding dumbbells in front of your chest. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and lean slightly backwards. Drop your butt down and extend your arms back behind you. Repeat 13 times.
10. Dumbbell Reverse Flyes – From standing position, drop your butt down and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Extend your arms out in front of your body and flye your hands past your body to the opposite side. Repeat 10 times.
It’s important to remember that strength training exercises alone aren’t going to prevent injuries. Wearing proper protective gear is the key to preventing injuries. Just as you wouldn’t walk barefoot outdoors without appropriate footwear, it’s equally dangerous to engage in strenuous activity without wearing protective equipment designed specifically for that sport.
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