The shoulder is one of the most flexible joints in the human body, as well as one of the most complex. Maintaining the health of your shoulders is essential in living a healthy and active life. Many health conditions can impact your shoulders, leading to pain and reduced mobility.
While many of these conditions have treatments, it still pays to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Learn about ways to protect your shoulders from injury, so that you can stay strong and energetic.
The shoulder joint is a complex assembly of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This complexity allows it to move and rotate at all six axes. The shoulders are meant for regular movement, which can be difficult to maintain in the modern sedentary lifestyle.
Stretches train the ability of the shoulder joint to move through its full range of motion. They challenge muscles to provide enough support to the joint at various ranges of motion. Regular stimuli trigger these muscles to strengthen, making them better able to control the shoulder joint.
Stretching exercises also prevent connective tissues such as tendons and ligaments from shortening. Without regular physical activity, these structures tend to become stiff, limiting your ability to fully move your shoulders. A worst-case scenario would be developing a frozen shoulder, a painful condition that can occur after prolonged immobilization of your arms.
Many flexibility exercises include isometric stretches, where you hold your arms at fixed locations for several seconds. These static stretches challenge your muscles, tendons, and ligaments to keep your shoulders stable. Other types of stretching exercises are dynamic, where your arms and shoulders are in constant motion.
Consult with your doctor or physical therapist, so that you know what exercises are appropriate, especially if you have a medical history of trauma involving your shoulders. When doing these stretches, make sure to do warm-ups first to gradually increase blood circulation and prevent cramps or other injuries.
Another key pillar for shoulder health is strengthening exercises. In contrast to stretches that help maintain your range of motion, strength-building exercises train your shoulders to bear heavier loads. There is a significant overlap between these two exercise types, but it’s best to include both in your training program.
Strengthening exercises can suppress muscle loss and general drops in strength as you age. By stimulating your muscles and connective tissues, they gradually become stronger and more resilient against damage. Higher levels of strength also translate to better control, making it less likely to injure yourself accidentally through physical activity. Strength-building exercises ultimately protect you from injury by reducing the chances of accidents happening and lowering the severity of trauma.
Strength exercises can involve your bodyweight or employ devices such as dumbbells or kettlebells. As your shoulders become stronger, you can move on to heavier weights to continue building strength. Don’t forget to consult with your doctor first before starting a strength-building program to ensure that you can perform these exercises safely.
Ergonomics involves posture checks and mobility considerations to prevent injuries from everyday activities. For the shoulders, ergonomic activities should be those that limit excessive movement of your shoulders. While regular exercises do build shoulder strength and flexibility, daily activities that stress your shoulders can cause excessive wear and tear that leads to chronic conditions.
Unfortunately, many people have occupations that require heavy shoulder work. Tasks that require you to move objects above your head, such as stocking shelves or fixing electrical wiring, can place undue stress on your shoulders. Athletes engaging in sports like basketball, badminton, or swimming are also at heightened risk of overuse injuries.
To protect your shoulders and other joints, make sure to take frequent breaks to allow your shoulders to rest. It’s also a good idea to vary your posture at least every hour to maintain mobility. Taking a short walk or doing basic stretches can help maintain flexibility.
Finally, ensure that your workplace supports an ergonomic environment. If certain tools, equipment, or procedures are triggering shoulder discomfort, talk with your management to consider alternatives.
General lifestyle changes are also excellent ways to maintain shoulder health. Maintaining a well-balanced diet provides your body with ample vitamins and minerals to rebuild damaged tissues and maintain a healthy shoulder. Getting enough sleep also gives your body time to heal from any damage caused by daily activities. Alongside exercises specific for your shoulder, cardiovascular exercises increase blood circulation and enable your body to utilize more oxygen and nutrients.
Avoiding vices such as smoking and drinking, and preventing comorbidities such as obesity, will also help keep your entire body, including your shoulders, in tip-top shape.
Shoulder Care in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Through flexibility and strength training exercises, ergonomic changes to your everyday activities and general lifestyle changes can help you take good care of your shoulders for years. While these best practices can’t make you immune to health conditions, practice these tips and keep in touch regularly with your orthopedic doctor to minimize shoulder issues in the future.
Through our facility in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Paul Meli Orthopedic Surgery provides conservative and surgical treatment for many orthopedic conditions. We have been providing state-of-the-art healthcare for sports and work-related injuries since 1990. Call us at (954) 324-7711 to learn more, and use our online request form for appointments.