Beware: 3 of the Most Common Shoulder Injuries and How to Prevent Them

August 7, 2023Kolton Opdahl
Shoulder Pain

Shoulder injuries are more common than you may realize, and you could be at risk if you aren’t careful. The three categories of shoulder injuries are:

  1. Sprains
  2. Strains
  3. Tears

You can develop any of these primarly due to overuse of the muscle, rotator cuff tears, arthritis, or poor posture. However, there are ways to reduce the chance of injury. If you currently have a shoulder injury or had one in the past, there are also methods that reduce pain around the affected area.

shoulder injuries

Shoulder Sprains

This injury occurs when the ligaments within the shoulder are torn or stretched to the point of separation / dislocation. The most common cause of a sprain is direct trauma to the area, such as a fall or a blow. Shoulder sprains separate into 6 grades based on the degree of pain. These include:

  • Grade 1- Ligaments of the AC joint slightly tear, but the bones don’t separate. Generally produces mild pain and / or swelling.
  • Grade 2- Ligaments tear and lead to both pain & swelling.
  • Grade 3- AC joint is completely separated and the collarbone is disclocated. Results in pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty participating in everyday activities.
  • Grades 4, 5, & 6- Ligaments tear, AC joint separates, and muscles detach from collarbone. These grades are less common and more severe than the others.

Shoulder Strains

A strain refers to the stretching or tearing of the tendon that attaches the muscle to the bone. You can expect this to happen in the shoulder due to trauma to the joint or overuse. For instance, falling and landing on your arm / shoulder, or participating in a sport that involves significant shoulder movement such as baseball or tennis.

Shoulder Tears

The third and final type of shoulder injury is a tear, which is defined as trauma to the soft tissues. It affects the muscles, tendons, ligaments, or labrum (these include shoulder sprains and strains). Depending on the circumstance, a tear can either be minor or severe. Shoulder tearing develops in the same way as sprains and strains: overuse or trauma / sudden injury.

shoulder injuries

How to Prevent Shoulder Injuries

  • Stretch

Whether you’re rehabbing an injury or not, it is important to stretch. Stretching helps to increase flexibility and range of motion within the joints. Consider researching simple shoulder stretches that you can perform at home everyday to lower the risk of future injuries.

  • Increase Shoulder Strength

Another way to prevent shoulder injuries is to build muscle strength. This is done by performing strength-building and endurance exercises. Doing this maintains stable joints & restores overall range of motion. Strengthening the shoulders will also improve posture, which lowers the risk of developing strains.

  • Rehabilitation

If you are currently suffering from a shoulder injury, rehabilitation is a crucial factor of the healing process, as it promotes a faster and more effective recovery. A big part of this process involves stretching and exercising, while also making sure to ice and rest when necessary. Make sure you consult a medical professional about a rehab plan that best fits your needs depending on the stage of the injury. Your primary care doctor may refer you to a physical therapist to help rehab your shoulder injury.


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