Top Strategies to Treat Your Shoulder Pain
The shoulder is a critical component in the playing of any sport. From basketball to tennis, football to baseball, the ability to throw, catch, and hit is essential.
Those repetitive, and sometimes dramatic, actions, however, also create shoulder pain in many athletes that can potentially sideline them from the sport they love. Treating that pain so you can get back out on the field is a priority anytime you begin to experience symptoms of discomfort in your shoulder.
Here at XOPT, we have several shoulder pain strategies we recommend to athletes that can help you get back to normal more quickly. Here are some of our top suggestions.
Try the RICE method.
When shoulder pain first begins, you can sometimes treat it effectively with an at-home regimen called the RICE method. An acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation, this method implements treatments that can reduce inflammation and give the muscles in your shoulder a chance to rest. Here is an overview of the method:
High school sports can be demanding, but shoulder pain can be your body’s way of asking for a break from repetitive activities that are causing too much strain on the muscles.
Taking a break for 2-3 days from your regular activities gives your muscles a chance to heal so you can get back on the field. In addition, you should especially avoid any heavy lifting, and any actions that involve raising your arms above your head.
Applying ice to the sore shoulder can also help to reduce inflammation, and related pain. Place ice on the sore area for 15 minutes. Repeat 3-4 times a day for 2-3 days.
Gentle pressure on your shoulder muscles can reduce swelling and related pain. The most effective way to apply this pressure is to wrap the shoulder in an elastic medical bandage.
The shoulder is naturally elevated, due to its position on the body. However, when you are sleeping, you can ensure that the affected elbow remains above your heart by sleeping on the non-affected side and/or by using a pillow to prevent rolling over in your sleep.
Work on maintaining proper posture.
Poor posture can exacerbate shoulder pain. While this is not likely to be the only or primary cause of shoulder pain in an athlete, it can be a contributing cause.
In addition to being mindful of your posture throughout your daily activities, there are certain exercises that can help you improve your posture and minimize shoulder pain so you can keep on playing the sport you love.
One such exercise is to stand up straight against a wall. Try rolling your shoulders back toward each other. This exercise will help to retrain your muscles so that they hold your shoulders in a proper position.
A physical therapist, such as those here at XO PT, can help you to implement other posture-boosting exercises to get your shoulders back into the right position and reduce the amount of pain you experience.
Use exercises to stretch your muscles.
If shoulder pain is caused by tight muscles, gentle stretching exercises can improve range of motion and reduce pain. Here are two exercises you can try to create more limber shoulder muscles.
Seated Shoulder Stretch
Sit up straight in a firm chair for this exercise. Take your left elbow in your right hand, and place your left hand on your right shoulder. Roll your shoulders back, and gently pull your left elbow across your chest as you extend your left arm. You should feel a stretch in your left shoulder. You can repeat this exercise on the right side of your body as well.
Seated Chest Stretch
For this exercise, you should sit up straight and sideways in an armless chair. Roll your shoulders back, and clasp your hands behind your back. Raise your clasped hands upward as far as you can without pain. You should feel a stretch throughout your shoulders and chest.
Consult a physical therapist.
At-home treatments and shoulder pain strategies may not be enough to get you back to playing sports comfortably. If your pain continues for more than 3 days, it may be time to consult a physician and/or a physical therapist.
A physician can run tests to rule out injuries to your shoulder and can implement treatments, such as medication or surgery, to restore health to your shoulder.
A physical therapist can provide a number of services designed to treat your shoulder pain. Here are just some of the treatments you can expect from a dedicated and experienced PT:
- Evaluation of your shoulder pain, including range of motion and functionality
- Post-operative treatment plans to reduce swelling and restore range of motion
- Stretches and exercises tailored to your specific physical condition
- State-of-the-art tools and techniques for addressing your shoulder pain
- Guidance in setting up an at–home regimen of shoulder care
- Expertise in treating high school athletes
You may find that seeing a physical therapist is sufficient in treating your shoulder pain, or you may find that working with a physician and a PT is necessary to get back on the field (e.g. Surgery followed by post-operative PT).
Shoulder pain strategies can help you address your discomfort in a way that gets you back to excelling on the field. Here at XO Physical Therapy, we have teams of experienced and compassionate physical therapists who provide personalized treatment plans using the leading approaches and tools. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help address your shoulder pain.