How to Prevent Shoulder Injuries This Winter

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

Prevent a Rotator Cuff InjuryWe’re coming up to that time of year when snow will soon be falling, the shovels will come out, and shoulder injuries will be prevalent. In order to prevent a shoulder injury this winter, keep this story and the following shoulder exercises in mind to prevent injuries.

The other day I was talking to our publisher, Adrian. You usually get these letters from him, though I do pitch in every now and then. However, during our talk, I gave Adrian a little advice that he thought should also be passed onto you. Here’s what we spoke about…

During our conversation, Adrian told me about a shoulder injury he’d recently sustained.

You see, last month, he was playing baseball and had to make a quick throw across the field. It was a routine play that he’d made countless times throughout the season, but this time, it irked him. He didn’t think it was much, but a few weeks later, his soreness wasn’t going away. This was when he started talking to me about it.

The pain Adrian is still feeling may be something you are able to relate to: it’s a deep, dull ache in his shoulder that is making his arm feel very weak and is making simple tasks like driving, combing his hair, and eating rather difficult.

Unfortunately, as I told Adrian, he might have been able to prevent his injury by performing a short warmup before playing and ensuring he’s always working on strengthening his shoulder muscles.

But sports aren’t the only way you can experience a rotator cuff injury like Adrian’s.

Who Is at Risk for a Shoulder Injury?

The shoulder is a sensitive, injury-prone area; any kind of job or activity can result in wear and tear or acute injuries. This is especially true if you do a lot of painting, carpentry, or other activities that require a lot of repetitive arm motions. Oh, and if you’re over 40, your risk for this type of injury goes way up. Add to that the potential of lots of shoveling come winter if you live in a colder climate, and a shoulder injury like Adrian’s could become extremely likely for you in the next couple months.

Having said that, now is the time to get started on shoulder injury prevention.

How to Prevent Shoulder Injuries

As I told Adrian, the key to lowering your chances of a rotator cuff injury throughout the year, though especially for many readers during the winter, involves two main factors: having strong shoulders and warming them up before each task or workout.

Here’s my advice I shared with Adrian and am now passing on to you…

Step #1: Warm Up Your Shoulders with Shoulder Stretches

Before performing exercises to strengthen the shoulders or before performing tasks that require repetitive motions in the shoulders, there are a couple of warmup motions that can help prevent injury:

  • Arm circles: Start by holding your arms directly out to each side at shoulder level and move your arms to make small circles with your arms going backward. Slowly increase the size of the circles, rotating through the shoulder. Perform five repetitions of four different-sized circles, and then switch so you’re moving your arms forward and repeat.
  • External rotations: Using no weight, a light dumbbell, or a resistance band, place your arms at your sides. Bend one of your elbows 90 degrees so your forearm is running parallel to your waist, across your stomach. Rotate your arm outwards, using the shoulder joint, as far as you can, leaving your elbow tucked at your side. Perform 15 repetitions per arm and repeat three or four times.

Step #2: Strengthen Your Shoulders with Shoulder Exercises

You can strengthen your shoulders by performing the following exercises one or twice per week, with at least 48 hours between sessions:

  • Side lateral raise: Stand up straight with your arms at your side. Holding a light dumbbell or resistance band, raise your arms out to the side with a slight bend at your elbow. With your elbows facing back, raise them to shoulder level, hold for a second, and slowly return them to your sides. During the entire motion, make sure your wrist is either in line with or slightly below elbow level. Repeat this motion 12 to 15 times per arm for a set and do four sets for each arm.
  • Reverse lateral raise: Most people have relatively good strength in the front of their shoulders and chest; however, they lack strength in the back of their shoulders. To strengthen this area, known as the rear or posterior deltoid, a reverse lateral raise can be performed. You can do this by bending forward at the hips, either when seated or standing, and letting your arms hang down to the floor. Using very light dumbbells or resistance bands, use your shoulders to pull your elbows back until your arms are parallel to the floor. Remain in the bent position for the entire motion and perform 12 to 15 repetitions per set for four sets.