How’s your pickleball game going?
Are you having weakness or pain in your shoulder joint, especially with an outstretched arm to the side or overhead? Do you have a dull ache in your shoulder, which often worsens when you try to sleep on the involved side? Has it become difficult to repeatedly crush overheads on the pickleball court? If so, you may be suffering from pathology of the rotator cuff muscles.
The rotator cuff consists of four small muscles named the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. Each of these muscle originate from the scapula(wing bone) and attach via a tendon to the head(top part) of the humerus(long bone of the upper arm). Together, they stabilize the shoulder joint, especially with abduction(moving the arm away from the side of the body) and flexion(moving the arm away from the front of the body). These muscles also perform external rotation(backhand movement) and internal rotation(forehand movement) of the shoulder.
Rotator cuff injuries are often related to forceful overhead motions, and can easily develop while playing pickleball. The most common injuries include muscle strain, tendinitis, bursitis, and muscle/tendon tears (worst case scenario). In part two I will discuss the best prevention of rotator cuff injury, including simple exercises to improve muscle strength. In part three, I will discuss treatment options following acute and chronic injuries to the rotator cuff muscles.
As a licensed physical therapist of over 17 years—and a pickleball addict—I will continue to share my knowledge and tips with you because I want pickleball players of all ages to enjoy this wonderful sport pain free. Pay attention to the aches and pains (they’re telling you something) and learn how to make them better. Pickleball pain free is the best!!
This post is Part 1 of 3. See Health Topic for future posts.