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April 24, 2012

Weak shoulders can lead to surgery down the road

Though orthopedic medical procedures for the shoulder have come a long way, it is better to prevent injuries to the joint altogether.

This should always be kept in mind when training for baseball, tennis, swimming or any other sport requiring upper-body use. Strengthening the rotator-cuff muscles and core, as well as improving your posture, can be helpful in preventing injuries to the shoulder down the road.

ROTATOR CUFFS

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, but it is also one of the weakest. The rotator-cuff muscles, which stabilize the joint, are located underneath the deltoids, the larger muscles of the shoulder. Four rotator-cuff muscles wrap halfway around the head of the upper arm bone (humerus). These muscles keep the head of the upper arm tight to the joint. They also control rotating and raising the arm.

For many, the internal rotators seem to be stronger than the external rotators, causing an imbalance. Doing some external-rotation exercises will help fix this. The only equipment needed is a light dumbbell and a bench.

Lie face down on the bench, allowing one arm to hang off to the side. While holding a light weight (1 to 3 pounds) in the same arm, raise the weight so that your arm ends up mimicking a right-hand turn signal, then lower it back down toward the floor. Your armpit and elbow should be at exactly 90 degrees when at the top. Do two to three sets of 15 repetitions. You should feel a slight burning sensation around your shoulder.

CORE

Strengthening your core is also must, not only for prevention of shoulder injuries, but also for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, ankle sprains and back pain.

The core, which includes everything from mid chest to mid thigh, must be able to activate correctly and be strong enough so that all body movements are done effectively and efficiently. When throwing a baseball, for example, certain core muscles should activate at just the right time in order to connect the arm motion with the legs' base of support. Without this connection, the legs cannot contribute energy to the ball as effectively, causing the shoulder to do a lot more work.

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