2. Work on flexibility.
Daily stretching can help maintain shoulder flexibility and a good range of motion, both of which provide some protection against injury, according to Williams. That’s why he and Neme recommend their patients practice yoga, which also improves strength and balance — both of which help prevent falls that can cause fractures.
3. Always warm up.
If you show up at the tennis court three minutes before you’re scheduled for a match, and just take off your jacket and start playing, you’re practically asking for shoulder trouble. “When you’re going to take part in activities, warm up first,” Williams says. A pre-activity routine might include some cardio work, such as jumping jacks, plus some of the stretching and rotator cuff exercises you do in your fitness workouts.
4. Practice moderation.
While exercise is good for your shoulders, overzealousness — especially coupled with poor technique — can increase your injury risk, Williams notes. For example, putting your shoulder in an extreme position and then loading it with resistance can subject your rotator cuff to a tremendous amount of force — possibly more than it can withstand. “Let’s say you’re doing a push-up,” he says. “It’s probably better not to take your chest all the way down to the floor, because your shoulders are significantly extended, and then you push your entire body weight up. You’d be better off stopping where your elbows are parallel with your body.”
And don’t push yourself to extremes with the weights, no matter what you see fitness buffs doing on YouTube. “To most people, what I would say is, just increase your intensity gradually,” Williams adds. Taking more time off between workouts for rest and building some easy days into your routine are also good for injury prevention.
5. Improve your ergonomics.
If you use a computer, how you sit at your desk can make a big difference. Repetitive activity — even something as seemingly harmless as using a computer mouse — can affect the shoulder. “You’d be better off having your computer table relatively high, so your shoulder is not extended all the time,” Williams says. Sitting up straight is also important, since slumping in your chair can result in tight muscles and affect how your shoulders move, Neme says.
Stretch Your Shoulders with Denise Austin - AARP
Patrick J. Kiger is a contributing writer for AARP. He has written for a wide variety of publications, including the Los Angeles Times Magazine, GQ and Mother Jones, as well as the websites of the Discovery Channel and National Geographic.