Injury Prevention Strategies: A lot rests on your shoulders

Keeping your shoulders functioning well takes some effort, but with a few easy tips you can keep them strong and moving correctly. Building and maintaining adequate strength is essential because this joint is highly moveable—and because of this it’s easy to injure. Another important injury-prevention tip involves maintaining muscle balance. In addition, HPRC provides information on warm up and flexibility specific to the shoulders.


Issue #1: Weak shoulder muscles are more likely to be injured.

  • Have your healthcare provider or trainer test the strength in your shoulders to see if there are any weak areas.
  • The rotator cuff is a key group of four shoulder muscles that allow for the joint to move smoothly and effectively. Strengthening them doesn’t require a lot of time each day. You might not be a swimmer, but who better than USA Swimming to teach you how to keep your shoulders in top condition?

Warm up

Issue #2: “Cold” joints and muscles don’t have as much flexibility.

  • Warming up prior to activity is important and can be as simple as five to 10 minutes of light cardiovascular activity such as fast walking or jogging. Keep your arms moving back and forth in an arc as you jog, keeping your elbows flexed and letting the motion occur at your shoulders.
  • Pendulum swings of the arms also provide a good warm-up for the shoulder joint.


Issue #3: Muscles and joints that are stiff and inflexible are more prone to injury.

  • The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has easy-to-follow exercises to help you warm up and stretch your shoulder muscles and joints.
  • The Mayo Clinic has a slideshow of easy shoulder and neck muscle stretches that can help you increase and maintain mobility of your joints and muscles.

Muscle balance

Issue #4: Overdevelopment of the muscles in the front of the shoulder while neglecting muscles in the back of the shoulder can cause injuries.

If your strength-training program includes shoulder exercises (and it should), make sure to include exercises for the front AND back of the shoulder. For example, along with exercises such as bench press and dumbbell press, include dumbbell rows and shoulder shrugs. These are just a few of the exercises you might want to try, but consult with a professional to develop a balanced program that is right for your MOS.

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