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Protect Those Rotator Cuffs

Tips on how to prevent these painful shoulder injuries

SATURDAY, May 22 (HealthDayNews)-- Spring is here, and that means warmer weather, more baseball, more tennis and more rotator cuff injuries.

The rotator cuff muscles hold the shoulder bones together and let them move when, for example, you throw a ball.

When you repeatedly stress this set of muscles with overhead movements, injuries can occur. In addition to these "overuse" types of injuries, a single traumatic event can also hurt the rotator cuff.

The best strategy is prevention, says Dr. Peter D. McCann, director of the Insall Scott Kelly Institute for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.

Check out these tips:

  • Start any new activity gradually, especially if you've been sedentary all winter. If you feel any pain, stop.
  • Keep it slow and steady. Gradually increase to the intensity you want.

Here are some good rotator-cuff exercises to help you ease into your workout:

  • Stretch both arms straight up overhead, lean to the left as far as possible then to the right. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds in each position.
  • Put both arms behind your back, fingers interlaced and slowly raise your arms up behind you as far as possible. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.
  • Put one arm across your body so that shoulder is under your chin and hand and your forearm and upper arm are parallel to the ground. Without turning your body, use your other hand to pull the arm as close to your chest as possible. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.

If you have pain that persists for 10 to 14 days, stop any activity and see a doctor.

More information

The National Library of Medicine has more on rotator cuff injuries.

SOURCES: Peter D. McCann, M.D., director, Insall Scott Kelly Institute for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York City; University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
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