Athletes, who participate in sports like cricket, tennis and badminton, take extremely high stress on their shoulders during the overhand throwing. The stress is especially felt on the structure that keeps the shoulders stable.
These repetitive overhand motions cause high stress on the shoulder, and ultimately lead to an overuse injury. This is known as dead arm syndrome. Owing to this, the player loses the strength to throw.
Often, a condition occurs where the rotator cuff tendons of the shoulder get trapped during the repetitive movements. This is called shoulder impingement syndrome.Such injuries are most often seen in players, who participate in sports that require repeated motions of the hand.
A shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint, which is made up of three bones – humerus (upper arm bone), scapula (shoulder blade) and clavicle (the collarbone).
An athlete repeatedly throws at a high speed, which causes significant stress on the anatomical structures of the shoulder that keeps the humeral head centered in the glenoid socket.
Dr Ashwani Maichand, a Delhi-based orthopaedist, is of the opinion that this can be due to the following reasons:
- Late-cocking phase: Thrower in the late cocking phase brings the arm up and behind the body. This position of extreme external rotation forces the humeral head forward, which causes major stress on the ligaments in front of the shoulder. Over time, the ligaments loosen, causing less stability of the shoulder.
- Follow-through phase:The arm of an athlete rapidly rotates internally during acceleration. A follow-through begins, once the ball is released. In order to decelerate the arm and control the humeral head, ligaments and rotator cuff tendons at the back of the shoulder should be able to handle the stress. Due to repetitive stresses, the ligament can become weak.
Throwing athletes can witness a number of shoulder injuries, where the rotator cuff and labrum are most vulnerableshoulder structures.
Dr Maichand highlighted that the most common shoulder injuries an athlete faces is a SLAP tear. It occurs on top of thering of cartilage (labrum), which encloses the shoulder’s socket. Due to the repetitive, overhead motions, a SLAP tear tends to develop gradually in an athlete.
SLAP tear can occur in both anterior (front) and posterior (back) of the attachment point of the labrum, and head of the biceps tendon. An athlete may notice a clicking, grinding, locking, or popping sensation in the shoulder, if he suffers from a SLAP tear.
By visiting various sports academies, Dr Ashwani Maichand, along with his team, conducts a pre-injury screening. They conduct sessions with the players who are likely to witness an injury in their shoulder.
Besides, they keep such players under training module for a particular period, to ensure that they are fit to participate in the game. With this, he is saving a player from becoming a patient.