One of the great things about basketball is its universal nature. Give a person a bouncing ball and set them in front of a hoop and he or she will have a pretty good idea of what to do. Because of basketball’s approachability, it’s played all over the world by all sorts of groups. There are young teams, old teams, professional teams and casual groups that get together at the local YMCA for fun. But no matter how casually you play, or how lightly you take it, you’re still at risk for overuse injuries from basketball. An inflamed rotator cuff from basketball, for instance, is one of the most common basketball injuries. It’s never good news for a basketball player since the rotator cuff is so important to the game. Here’s how to protect your rotator cuff, and to recover from inflammation should it occur.
The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that help keep the shoulder in place, providing stability and range of movement. The rotator cuff connects the upper arm bone (the humerus) to the shoulder blade (the scapula). Every time you move your shoulder the rotator cuff is hard at work, keeping a balance between stability and movement.
In basketball, as you can imagine, the rotator cuff is constantly in use. We use it to move our arms when dribbling or when playing defense. But it’s the overhead motions that are particularly strenuous on the rotator cuff. Which is why an inflamed rotator cuff from basketball is especially common from shooting hoops. It can quickly become irritated and then inflamed with the repetitive motion of shooting the ball. Sometimes this type of inflammation, or tendinitis, leads to swelling, but one will certainly experience a soreness in the shoulder area.
If you treat your inflamed rotator cuff from basketball as soon as you notice it, you should be able to heal it on your own. If you play through it, however, you risk a more debilitating injury like impingement syndrome or a rotator cuff tear. A tear can require surgery and is much more serious. So as always, it’s important to treat even the most minor injury with care and patience.
If you have an inflamed rotator cuff from basketball, bring down the pain and swelling by using the ICE method. Take a break from the court and ice your swollen shoulder. To minimize your time away from the court, give yourself a deep tissue massage to repair damaged tissue and speed up your recovery. But to avoid reaggravating your shoulder injury, don't play until your pain has reached a manageable level and you have a stable range of motion.
One of the biggest causes for an inflamed rotator cuff and shoulder injuries in general are weak shoulder muscles. Since your rotator cuff is responsible for your shoulder’s stability, it needs to be strong at every position. Work on strengthening the surrounding muscles in the shoulder and the arms for greater stability in your basketball game. Find an exercise routine and a resistance stretching program. Develop strength through your whole range of motion so that you can feel strong and steady in your game. This will help you to not only recover from an inflamed rotator cuff, but to protect yourself from other injuries in the future. Check out Rolflex assisted training videos for some guided techniques in using it.