By Barbara Wintroub
First: you must know that the shoulder joint is the most mobile and the most unstable joint in the body.
Second: the Rotator Cuff muscle group is made up of four muscles from the back side of your body: Rotator Cuff anatomyThe Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor and Subscapularis. The long head of the bicep tendon in the front of your arm can also be compromised. Many times the person will feel pain at the insertion of the deltoid muscle which is the shoulder pad looking muscle on top of your arm.
The shoulder is a ball and socket joint like the hip. But, picture this – the hip is more like a golf ball sitting inside a “shot” glass as opposed to the shoulder, which is more like a golf ball on a golf tee. The hip is much more protected because it so deeply imbedded inside the hip bone. The shoulder is just sitting there waiting to get injured because it is pretty much exposed, anatomically. The humeral bone is just hanging off the socket, which gives the joint all that mobility. But that also is the reason the shoulder is so unstable!
Injuries from sports usually are caused by poor technique or overuse of the tendons reinforcing the shoulder. Rotator Cuff injuryOveruse is obvious to us picklers, because we play a one-sided sport, but poor technique because of poor posture is a different story. With poor postural alignment – a shoulder and head that are forward instead of aligned in something that looks like military posture – the tendons are rubbed and compressed between the bones until they inflame or tear, especially if there is an imbalance in muscle tension coming from poor postural alignment.
OH NO! Not postural alignment again! That pesky postural alignment stuff seems to be the “root of all evil”. Compare your shoulder to your car tires that haven’t been balanced correctly.. What happens? Your tires wear unevenly, until they are bald on only one side. This is the same procedure for your bones and cartilage and the wear and tear on your shoulder joint.
Achieving good posture is less expensive, easier to accomplish and requires no time off, as opposed to having surgery, going through Physical Therapy and being off 2-3 months or more. Even if you get your shoulder repaired, the same injury from imbalance will happen again, if you don’t work to correct the position of your shoulder.
What this means to you, my pickleball friends, is put your shoulder in the right place (by standing up straight), stretch your chest muscles (by lying on a foam roller), do back exercises (like squeezing your wings together) and rotator cuff exercises (like placing your elbows on your waist and moving your fist backwards) before you get injured. Then if you have surgery for a tear, follow the same guidelines afterwards.
Better to start now then wait till later.