5 Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

1. Overuse

I’m just going to come out and say it: You probably use your shoulder too much. Yes, office workers, even you! Whether you’re a baseball player or typist (or anything in between), find your profession in the list below to figure out where overuse comes into play regarding your shoulder pain, and how you can prevent it!

  • Athlete

The reason for overusing the shoulders in athletes is obvious, but it never hurts to re-familiarize yourself with the basics: The muscles involved in throwing, spiking, swimming, and swinging are interconnected with your shoulder joint. Repeatedly using them in practices and games can cause sprains and tears.

Prevention: Always warm up and cool down. Always supplement a hard cardio program with gradual strength training. Always stretch.

  • Construction Worker

We are placing all our bets on this: from the minute you were hired, your employer trained you on injury prevention methods. This is because construction workers are required to lift heavy objects, pull, push, drill, and pretty much every other movement involving the shoulder (and other areas).

Prevention: To briefly recap what you learned in work training (and who doesn’t need a refresher every now and then?): Always ask for help when you need it, always wear protective gear, always use your leg muscles to lift, and always warm up.

  • Mail Carrier

As a mail carrier, you may tend to only focus on the physical mechanics of reaching into mail boxes and bending down for packages, and forget that driving can have just as much of an effect on your shoulders as your other movements.

The Prevention: Be aware of your posture when driving, hand delivering packages, and sorting mail. Remember, also, to listen to your body; if you start to feel achy, take a breather if you can, and learn to rest when you get home.

  • Office Worker

If you sit all day, you may think you never have to worry about shoulder injuries. If that is the case, then please consider this as a polite but stern reminder: YOU ARE WRONG! Even miniscule movements, like typing and mouse clicks – as well as lack of movement, like sitting hunched over a computer – can develop into strains.

Prevention: Keep your head above your shoulders, feet flat on the floor, shoulders back, and screen at eye level. Get up for a walk at least every two hours.

  • Crossing Guard

Hopefully you know that every single day, you are the ray of light for children and pedestrians at crosswalks! While you are holding signs, motioning to cars, and all-around preventing mayhem, you could be straining your shoulders.

Prevention: Like with the other professions in this list, posture is key. If you have long shifts, take time to rest and stretch (but also keep up an exercise routine at home).

  • Parent

What do you call a profession that is a little bit of all of the above professions, wrapped into one? A parent of a small child, of course. If you are a parent and reading this, then just skip to the Prevention section; I’m not even going to try to sum up your job duties in this small space!

Prevention: Even when you feel like you don’t have two-tenths of a second to spare, make the time to exercise and stretch. Maintaining strength and preventing stiffness can prevent bursitis, frozen shoulder, and a lot more.

2. Underuse

You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to know that two opposites can lead to the same result (I wrote a post a few months ago, touching on this). Just as lifting heavy weights too often can cause rotator cuff tears, not working out at all (and then attempting to lift) can also cause injuries. The main takeaway here is balance! Use common sense when working out, and don’t sit too much!

3. Trauma

When shoulder pain occurs as a result of trauma, it will be obvious. A fall against concrete, a sudden sprain from pulling, or even sleeping the wrong way are all cases of traumatic injury. If you experience an immediate onset of shoulder pain as a result of an accident, consult a physician right away.

4. Posture

Even when you’re not using your shoulder, you could be using it. Here’s what that means: the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves are all complexly connected, so even if you’re just standing there, your shoulders are keeping your arms attached to your body. How you stand is  either helping or hurting your shoulders. This all depends on your posture: if you’re slouching, you’re putting undue strain on your neck and shoulder area, and if you standing tall, you’re easing the weight and building up strength.

5. Failure to Stretch

When you don’t stretch, your muscles constrict and tighten, making it easier for an injury to occur when you’re least expecting it. Always stretch! If you need motivation, or for ways to “spice up” your stretching routine, try yoga! ◾

Medically Reviewed by: Roman Shulze, MD

Has shoulder pain affected you in another way? Do you have a personal preventative technique you swear by? Let me know in the comments below!


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