The shoulder is one of the most common joints in sports, it’s also one of the most commonly injured joints. A shoulder injury can affect any athlete at all levels from youth to professional level. There are many different types of injuries associated with the shoulders including rotator cuff tears (AC joint), biceps tendinopathy (AC joint) and pectineus muscle strain (AC joint).
There are several factors that contribute to the development of these injuries. These include genetics, training, age and gender.
However there is another factor that is often overlooked but may play a role in some cases: Shoulder Surgery Not the Option for Baseball Players.
Shoulder surgery not the option for baseball players? What does this mean exactly?
It means that you have had surgery to repair your AC Joint or other shoulder problems. If you have had this type of surgery, then you will likely need to avoid playing contact sports such as baseball. The reason for this is that additional manipulation or stress to your shoulder joint may: 1) Cause more damage to the area and 2) Speed up the recovery time. Both of these issues should be concerning to you because they may directly affect your ability to continue playing baseball.
If you have had shoulder surgery in the past and remain undiagnosed, it is important that you see a physician as soon as possible. There may be an underlying condition present that is affecting the health of your glenohumeral joint.
By getting an accurate assessment and diagnosis, you can begin the appropriate treatment.
Playing a non-contact sport such as baseball or softball is a possibility for individuals who have had shoulder surgery in the past. This reduces the stress on the shoulder joint and may speed up the recovery time from injury or surgery.
It is important that you communicate with your coach about your specific condition. They will be able to determine if you will be able to play or not.
In the event that you are not able to play, it is suggested that you try to find another non-competitive physical activity to participate in. This could be anything from swimming to biking.
Whether you have had shoulder surgery or not, it is important to strengthen the muscles of your rotator cuff and scapular stabilizers. These muscles are essential to maintaining a stable shoulder joint and also protect it from injury or strain.
Try performing the following exercises 2-3 times per week to strengthen these muscles:
You can perform these exercises at home using a small resistance band. Simply loop the band around a railing or something that is sturdy and anchored down.
Perform each exercise for 1-3 sets of 12-16 repetitions. As your muscles get stronger you can begin to increase the repetitions and resistance.
In addition to strengthening your shoulder muscles, it is important that you perform stretching exercises on a regular basis. Below are some great examples of static and dynamic stretches you can do to keep your shoulders flexible:
Of course, having strong and flexible muscles is only part of the equation. It is equally as important to have good technique when throwing a baseball.
Always remember to throw with your legs and core and follow through after every single throw. It is also important to stay relaxed when throwing the ball and avoid tensing up at any cost. If you find yourself tensing up or feeling strain in your shoulder, STOP IMMEDIATELY and take a break before continuing.
As you practice and play, you may find that certain positions or motions cause pain in your shoulder. In this case it is best to either change the way you perform that specific motion or, if possible, switch to a different position.
It is very common that athletes who have had surgery experience pain during the first few weeks following their procedure. This is due to the swelling that occurs as a result of the surgery.
Anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce pain and swelling during this period of recovery, however it is important to remember that these medications can also hinder the body’s ability to heal. Limit the amount of anti-inflammatory medication you take and only use if necessary.
As with any injury or surgery, it is important to listen to your body. If you feel severe pain or have any concerns, visit your surgeon.
It may be necessary to change up your recovery routine, however this is not a sign of failure but rather a necessity to ensure proper healing.
It is extremely rare for athletes to have a recurrence of their initial injury although it can happen. If you experience a “twinge” or “stab” in your shoulder during practice or play be sure to stop immediately and consult a physician.
It is also important to keep a healthy and balanced diet while undergoing rehabilitation. Foods that are rich in protein help the muscles rebuild themselves stronger than before.
Along with this, it is important to stay hydrated as well; the combination of the two will help your body repair itself quickly.
Finally, it is essential to keep a positive attitude. Take a break from the sport if you need to in order to ensure a full recovery.
Although it is tempting to rush back into things, this will only lead to further injury and could possibly cause you to abandon the sport all together.
Most athletes find that, after surgery, they can return to sport at the same level they were participating at before the injury. As long as you follow all the steps of rehabilitation, in time you will make a full recovery and be back to your regular routine.
However, it is important to keep in mind that overuse injuries such as tendinitis can sometimes appear after an athlete has returned to full activity. It is suggested that you take measures to strengthen the muscles around your shoulder and follow the steps to rehabilitation in the above section titled Overuse Injuries.
Shoulder dislocation, also known as luxatio erectus, is when the head of the humerus, or ball portion, pops out of the shoulder socket. This is common in older adults, specifically those who are very active.
In younger adults it is less common but still can occur, especially if they do a lot of overhead motions such as throwing a football or other sports that involve the motion of lifting or throwing a ball. It is also common in children and adolescents who fall directly on their outstretched hand.
Sources & references used in this article:
Incidence and return to play after biceps tenodesis in professional baseball players by PN Chalmers, BJ Erickson, NN Verma… – Arthroscopy: The …, 2018 – Elsevier
Prevalence of ulnar collateral ligament surgery in professional baseball players by SA Conte, GS Fleisig, JS Dines… – … American journal of …, 2015 – journals.sagepub.com
Arthroscopic shoulder surgery in female professional tennis players: ability and timing to return to play by SW Young, MR Safran, J Dakic… – … journal of sports …, 2013 – journals.sagepub.com
Performance and return to sport following rotator cuff surgery in professional baseball players by BJ Erickson, PN Chalmers, J D’Angelo, K Ma… – Journal of shoulder and …, 2019 – Elsevier
Return to play and outcomes in baseball players after superior labral anterior-posterior repairs by BD Gilliam, L Douglas, GS Fleisig… – … American journal of …, 2018 – journals.sagepub.com