Shoulder Injury Prevention

Shoulder Injury Prevention

The number one most common shoulder injury seen in my clinic is the impingement of the supraspinatus tendon. This is “when the tendons of the rotator cuff and the subacromial bursa are pinched in the narrow space beneath the acromion. This causes the tendons and bursa to become inflamed and swollen. This pinching is worse when the arm is raised away from the side of the body.” (The Steadman Clinic)

To prevent this injury, refrain from the following weight training exercises:

  1. Upright Rows
  2. Lateral raises where the elbows raise above the shoulders
  3. Anterior or front deltoid raises where the thumb is in the downward position
  4. Dips on a dip bar or bench-the damage is not worth the gain. These exercises close don your acromioclavicular joint causing friction in the supraspinatus tendon; it’s like taking a rope and dragging it over a concrete block


Do not forget that what’s behind you is very important when it’s you shoulder stabilizers. We all get sucked into training our “show off” muscles (i.e. biceps, chest, las, and shoulders) while neglecting what’s behind us; which would be our shoulder stabilizers (aka strong back) and strong shoulders.

To become a pain-free shoulder athlete, target your external rotators first; these are the small muscles at the back of the shoulder that anchor and stabilize the shoulder. Don’t forget to stretch and then stretch some more when it comes to your pecs and lats.

Avoid sleeping on your side as often as possible. Rule #1: the bigger your shoulders, the larger your pillow must be when you’re sleeping on your side. Sleeping on your side cuts off blood and nerve flow to your arm, impending the recovery of any injury; it also causes more impingement to your acromioclavicular joint (the joint at the top of the shoulder) and the supraspinatus tendon.

If the pillow is not large enough when sleeping on your side, you will have to roll your shoulder forward to rest the head on the pillow. This will also impinge the supraspinatus tendon just as the “exercises to avoid” mentioned above would.

Remember when you are injured and in pain there is no gain.