Why Do Your Shoulders Hurt? - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on February 11, 2013

Why Do Your Shoulders Hurt?

When it comes to keeping your shoulders healthy and pain-free, you shouldn’t just shrug them.

And yet that’s what most active people tend to do; they don’t stretch their shoulders, they don’t pay attention to strengthening them the right way, and they mistreat them in the course of doing other exercises.

“Many casual athletes do not pay much attention to the health of their shoulders,” says Dean Trevlyn, M.D., a Crozer-Keystone orthopedic surgeon.

The result is often shoulder pain that can put a crimp in your exercise regimen, interrupt your sleep, or just plain hurt.

“Most of us do not spend enough time stretching before exercise,” Trevlyn says. “A good shoulder stretching and strengthening program can help to avoid injuries.”

The extent of shoulder injuries can range from bursitis and inflammation to rotator cuff tears and tendon ruptures. According to Trevlyn, inflammation is the most common cause of shoulder discomfort, and it’s typically caused by people either doing exercises improperly or just simply doing too much. As always, too much of a good thing is not good.

“It is important to have a balanced exercise program – working on the chest, shoulder and upper back muscles equally,” he said. “We have found that rowing exercises are good for the shoulder.”

Trevlyn warns that any exercise in which the arms are lifted over the head – tennis, swimming, etc. – can cause shoulder issues. The key in many instances is similar to remember that, just like your hips, knees and ankles, the shoulders are joints that should be warmed up and stretched before exercise that can put some torque on the joint.

“There are specific stretches that can help to loosen up the shoulder and avoid injury,” Trevlyn says. “Letting the arm hang and swing with circular pendulum motions, climbing the fingers up a wall to stretch overhead, using a towel or bar to stretch behind the back; these are some of the good exercises. The use of Theraband or elastic bands can also be helpful for shoulder strengthening.”

There are some orthopedists who claim that push-ups can “wreck your shoulders.” Trevlyn says that push-ups are a good exercise to do, as long as they’re done in moderation and as part of a balanced exercise regimen.

Because of the wide range of possible shoulder injuries, you should be sure to see your doctor if you have shoulder pain. Very likely, the treatment will simply be rest. But it’s best to be sure.

Crozer-Keystone Health System offers comprehensive total joint care. From conservative approaches to managing pain to joint replacement surgery, the physicians of the Premier/Crozer-Keystone Orthopedics Partnership will determine what plan works best for you. Appointments within 48 hours; call 1-855-CK-JOINT (1-855-255-6468) or visit here to fill out and submit our appointment request form.

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