Shoulder pain is a common complaint among both male and female softball players. When an athlete throws a ball, it places stress on the ligaments, tendons, and muscles in the shoulder joint. And done repeatedly, it can lead to overuse injuries that result in shoulder pain. The pain in your shoulder can be the result of a number of different throwing injuries, including:
- Muscle strain
- SLAP (Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior) tears
- Bicep tendinitis and tendon tears
- Rotator cuff tendinitis and tears
- Internal impingement
Shoulder soreness after practices and games early in the season is also common among softball athletes although it is not necessarily linked to an injury. If your body is not ready for intense athletic activity, tense muscles can also result in minor injuries or shoulder pain.
How to Prevent Shoulder Pain
Sufficient pre-season conditioning to strengthen the muscles in the shoulder and upper back can help prepare the body for the stresses of repeatedly throwing a ball and swinging a bat. Moreover, proper technique is important for new and younger players so they avoid creating habits that can ultimately lead to shoulder pain.
During the softball season, warming up and stretching before every game and practice is key to preventing injuries caused by overstretching or overextending when muscles and other tissues are not yet prepared for activity. Furthermore, serious athletes may want to keep track of the number of pitches, throws, and swings they perform and limit the number they do throughout the day. Finally, to avoid overuse injuries, change positions and practice a variety of throws.
Coping with Shoulder Pain and Injuries
If you have an injury, the first course of action is to rest. Continuing to practice throwing and batting while you have a shoulder injury will only prolong the recovery and could make the injury worse, especially if left untreated. To alleviate muscle tension, massage can help loosen the affected muscles.
Because shoulder pain is often a sign of inflammation in the joint, it’s a good idea to apply cold therapy and compression. Consider a cold therapy device that uses an adjustable wrap to cover the entire area surrounding the shoulder to deliver therapeutic cold from every angle. As the cold penetrates into the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, it helps reduce swelling and naturally relieves pain at the same time. Active compression removes excess fluid from the area and also brings freshly oxygenated blood so damaged tissues heal more quickly.
In addition, your doctor might recommend taking an over-the-counter pain medication to temporarily relieve discomfort. However, although this approach is effective in the short term, it does not promote healing, so use it in combination with other restorative methods, such as rest and cold therapy. If the pain worsens or continues, you might need to work with a physical therapist or seek additional types of treatment like steroid injections or shoulder surgery.
If you experience shoulder pain and are looking for drug-free relief, download the free Guide to Upper Extremity Injury and Surgery Recovery to learn more about your options.