Preventing Shoulder Injury
The human shoulder is designed to provide a great deal of mobility. It can assume up to as many as 1,600 positions. However, in order to provide this function it is dependent upon an integrated system of ligaments, muscles, and tendons for support.
Very similar to a golf ball sitting on a tee, the rounded end of the upper arm moves within the scooped out socket of the shoulder blade. But, unlike the golf ball, the head of the arm must remain in a confined space and still move freely. Pain occurs when excessive demands are placed on the stabilizing structures (muscles, ligaments, joint capsule) of the shoulder, especially when placed at higher angles of flexion (forward elevation >90°) and/or extreme abduction (sideward elevation). Studies have shown that shoulder pain in the general population of some countries has been reported to be as high as 50%.
Here are some ways to prevent you from becoming part of this statistic:
- Stretch and strengthen regularly. The stronger and more flexible the joints are, the more readily they will be able to withstand impact or repetitive forces.
- When lifting: face the object, keep the back as straight as possible, and use the legs for lifting power.
- Do not reach to place or retrieve heavy objects stored up high or behind other objects (i.e. briefcase/purse in the back seat of your car). Position your body carefully and use a stable platform/step stool for elevated objects.
- Do not "yank" on an object. Think about the task at hand and if too heavy or precarious, get help!
- For seated tasks, use a supportive chair, particularly one with adjustable arm rests and seat. Position the body so that your buttocks are back as far as possible, adjust the seat so that the hips and knees are maintained at 90°-110°, and adjust the arm rests so that the shoulder can hang naturally and the elbows are 90°-110° to the keyboard.
- Take posture breaks and stretch for 5-10 minutes every hour.
- Know when you need rest and relaxation during non-working hours and maintain good physical condition to avoid strains and sprains.