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Shoulder pain is common as warm weather outdoor activities start

shoulder-pain-1.jpgIt was only a few weeks ago that plummeting temperatures made it seem that spring would never arrive. But, if now warmer days have you dusting off your bats, rackets or clubs in anticipation of outdoor exercise, a bit of caution will help keep your warm weather months injury free.

“Regardless of your age, you shouldn’t try to pick up where you left off before winter set in,” said Dr. David Abend, of Rowan Medicine’s NeuroMusculoskeletal Institute. “If you haven’t been actively exercising through the winter months, remember to gradually ease back into activity.”

The key is to start slowly and gradually increase the time, frequency and intensity of your exercise, he said.

“Ideally, plan to gradually add to your activity level over a period of a few weeks. Before each outing, remember to warm up and stretch your muscles and then add a cool down stretch afterwards.”   

Shoulder pain is a common springtime complaint, particularly among those who golf or play tennis, baseball or softball.

“Shoulder pain often involves the rotator cuff, the group of muscles and tendons that allow the shoulder to move,” Dr. Abend said. “Throwing a ball or swinging a bat, club or racket will place significant stress on the rotator cuff, either while generating the momentum for the activity or while stopping the arm and shoulder motion at the end.”

During a physical examination, a physician can often diagnose a rotator cuff injury by seeing which part of the shoulder hurts and at what point in the range of motion that pain occurs. 

Tendinitis, an inflammation of the fibrous bands that connect muscles to bones, is another common complaint when people increase their physical activity. Tendinitis is frequently tied to overuse or repetitive motion involving the elbows, wrists or knees, and causes soreness and sometimes swelling around those joints. A dull, aching pain, particularly during movement, will often indicate tendinitis.

“In many cases, rest is the best medicine for achy joints and muscles,” Dr. Abend said. “Use an occasional ice pack to reduce inflammation and pain relievers like aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen.” 

He also noted the importance of checking with your physician before beginning any exercise program and pointed out that prevention remains the best medicine.

“Remember, there is no gain in pain. Your goal should be to get the all the benefits of regular exercise without injury,” Dr. Abend said. “Any joint or muscle pain that lasts more than two days should be evaluated by a physician.”

Osteopathic physicians, like Dr. Abend, are specially trained in osteopathic manipulative treatment, and can restore the structural balance of the muscles, bones, joints and ligaments through stretching, gentle pressure and light resistance that relieves muscle and joint pain, promotes healing and increases mobility.