Skiing is an exciting sport that gives you an intense adrenaline rush. However, with the twists, turns, jumps, and falls involved in skiing, certain injuries may occur. One of these is a rotator cuff injury, which can limit your movement and cause sharp shoulder pains.

Learn more about this type of injury, including its causes and symptoms, along with some exercises to help you recover faster.

What is a Rotator Cuff Injury?

The group of muscles that surround the shoulder joint is called the rotator cuff. It secures your upper arm bone, the humerus, securely within the shallow socket of the shoulder. With a fall while skiing, or with repeated use of ski poles, an injury may occur in this area. Some activities other than skiing that can trigger a rotator cuff injury include tennis, baseball, and weightlifting. Age can be an increased risk factor for this condition.

Rotator Cuff Injury Symptoms

A rotator cuff injury may vary from inflammation to small splits to more serious tears. Symptoms linked with this condition include the following:

  • Pain
  • Restricted Motion
  • Clicking and Catching
  • Weakness

The intensity of the pain may also depend on certain movements or positions. For instance, you might experience a sharp pain each time you reach backward. There is also a greater degree of pain while reaching upward, pushing or pulling.. Picking up an item out of the back seat of your car or reaching into the cupboard may worsen the symptoms. In some rare cases, a person with a torn rotator cuff may experience only weakness, but no pain despite the injury.

Exercises to Ease the Pain

The following are some exercises you can perform to help reduce pain caused by a rotator cuff injury. These can be done in conjunction with your rehabilitation program.

  • Lean forward and rest one hand on a table for balance and support. Leave the other arm hanging freely on one side. Then, swing your arm in a forward and backward motion. Be sure to do this gently while moving the arm in a circular motion and from one side to the next.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and pull one arm gently across your chest while pressing on your upper arm. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds. Do the same motion with the other arm and do about 4 repetitions for each side.
  • Hold a stick behind your back horizontally with your left hand and grasp the other end with your right. Slowly pull the stick in a way that passively stretches your shoulder without causing any pain. Hold the position for up to 30 seconds and rest for a while before repeating on the other side.

    (Image: American Academy of Orthopedic Sciences)

  • Get an elastic band and make a loop about a yard long. Attach the band securely to a stable object such as a door knob. Bend your elbow as you hold the band at one side. Be sure to keep the arm close to the side and pull the elbow straight backwards. Perform about 3 sets of 8 repetitions.

    (Image: American Academy of Orthopedic Sciences)

  • Using the same elastic band, hold it with one hand and keep the elbow bent at your side. Next, bring your arm gently and slowly across the body. Do about 3 sets of 8 repetitions for each side.

Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht, M.D is an orthopedic surgeon in the San Francisco Bay Area. He specializes in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery.

An experienced ski injury doctor and rotator cuff specialist, Dr. Halbrecht offers the best treatment for sports injuries.

Arrange an appointment for a consultation with Dr. Halbrecht and get back on track to your optimum health.