Want to make an orthopedic surgeon cringe? Lift a heavy object with outstretched arms. Sling a heavy backpack over one arm. Reach for something with your thumb pointing down.
Do you see a pattern here? All of these things place undue strain on the shoulder joint—and while some doctors might joke that it’s good for business, the truth is that it’s bad for shoulders.
The shoulder is an incredibly mobile joint; however this mobility comes with a price—instability. In fact, you can think of the shoulder joint sort of like a golf ball sitting on a golf tee—not very stable.
When it comes to the shoulder, your best defense is a good offense. Healthy habits are key. Here are some simple steps for taking care of your shoulders so that you can continue to do all of your favorite—and even some of your not so favorite—activities.
- Posture: Practice good posture when standing and seated. Keep your head over your shoulders and your shoulders down and back.
- Backpack: There are two straps for a reason. Use them. Avoid carrying a backpack or heavy bag over just one shoulder.
- Lifting: Lift and carry objects close to your body. Avoid lifting heavy objects with outstretched arms.
- Reaching: Use a stool or ladder to reduce strain on your shoulder.
- Overhead Motion: Avoid working with your arms above shoulder level for long periods of time. Take regular breaks, especially from repetitive activity.
- Thumbs Up: Keep your thumb pointing up when you reach for something with your arm.
Healthy habits are one way to prevent shoulder injuries—but if you really want to be proactive, be sure to stretch and strengthen the muscles of the shoulder joint.
Read more about shoulder injuries and how to prevent them on Shoulder Injuries and Disorders.