The shoulder has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body. It is our shoulders that allow us to put our hands where they need to be for work, play, and all of our daily activities. To manage this, the shoulder has to have the right balance of strength, flexibility, and stability. Loss of this balance can lead to pain and injury. Maintaining this balance through exercises aimed at stretching and strengthening can help avoid shoulder problems.
The shoulder is at risk for injury in many sports. The rotator cuff can be injured through overuse or through trauma. Rotator cuff tendinitis is common in overhead sports such as baseball, tennis, volleyball, and swimming. Rotator cuff tears can occur if the tendons are overloaded in weight lifting or football. There are ligaments which hold the shoulder bone in its socket. The shoulder has a very large range of motion, and needs some flexibility of the ligaments to allow for that range. But if the ligaments become stretched or torn, this can lead to instability. A mild amount of instability will allow the shoulder to slip part way out of socket, called a subluxation. When the shoulder comes completely out of its socket this is called a dislocation. Subluxation or dislocation can occur with nearly all sport activities. The ligaments of the shoulder are attached to the socket at the labrum. Tearing of the labrum sometimes occurs with instability. Another part of the shoulder commonly injured is the acromioclavicular or AC joint. The clavicle or collarbone meets the shoulder at the acromion where a small joint is found. This joint can be injured to varying degrees in a fall onto the outside part of the shoulder. Injury to the AC joint is called an AC separation. AC separations occur in contact sports and are frequently seen in skiing and biking falls. Clavicle fractures are common injuries seen frequently in sports where speed or contact are involved.
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