Which Sports Put My Rotator Cuff in Danger, and How Can I Protect It?

Which Sports Put My Rotator Cuff in Danger, and How Can I Protect It?

Your shoulder is an amazing part of your anatomy with an amazing range of motion. Your rotator cuff 一 a group of four muscles that cover the head of your humerus 一 helps to lift and rotate your arm. 

You might not think much about your rotator cuff or its role in your movement until it hurts. Our team of providers here at International Spine, Pain & Performance Center knows that rotator cuff tears are a common sports injury, but thankfully, it's one we treat here in our Washington D.C. and Arlington, Virginia, offices. 

In this article, we take a closer look at the sports that put your rotator cuff in danger and how you can protect it from injury.

Racquet sports

Racquet sports 一 especially serving 一 requires a lot from your shoulder. Racquet sports include tennis, racquetball, and badminton. Serving the ball requires a tremendous amount of energy and force, and it accounts for 65% of the swings taken in tennis. Studies show that tennis players are at an increased risk of rotator cuff tears due to overuse of the shoulder.


Just like tennis players are at an increased risk of developing rotator cuff injuries due to repetitive swings, so are baseball players. Any player who throws is at risk for a shoulder injury, but studies show that pitchers are most likely to injure their rotator cuff due to the repetitive throwing motion. This also applies to softball pitchers too.


Swimming is touted as a low-impact sport that’s easy on your joints. While swimming is easier on most of your joints, it does take a toll on your shoulders. The repetitive overhead motion can increase your risk of rotator cuff tears, rotator cuff tendonitis, swimmer’s shoulder, and cartilage tears.


Football increases your risk of many different sports injuries, including concussions, knee injuries, and ankle sprains. Quarterbacks, however, are particularly prone to shoulder injuries. Because of the repetitive motion of throwing the ball, those who play football are at risk of shoulder impingement, rotator cuff injuries, and tendinitis. Getting tackled can also lead to shoulder dislocations.


Just like tennis and baseball demand a lot from your shoulders, so does volleyball. Serving, spiking, and blocking can lead to both overuse injuries and acute injuries. 


While most rotator cuff injuries result from overuse in older individuals and overhead athletes, tears may also occur during a fall or trauma. Collision sports such as ice hockey, football, rugby and lacrosse might put an athlete at risk. Traumatic injuries may result in profound weakness and discomfort requiring early evaluation and treatment. 

How can I protect my shoulder?

Any time you play one of these high-risk sports, you are at risk for receiving a sports injury. However, there are many steps you can take to reduce your chance of hurting your shoulder, such as:

Despite your best efforts, accidents happen, and if you do experience shoulder pain, contact International Spine, Pain & Performance Center. Receiving swift medical attention can facilitate your healing journey and help you get back in the game as soon as possible. Physical therapy, medications, rest, and, in some cases, surgery are all methods used to repair a rotator cuff injury.

You can reach us by calling one of our two locations or requesting an appointment online.

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