One of the most common injuries in both dance and athletics is rotator cuff injury. This particular injury comes from overuse (baseball, tennis, swimming, weightlifting, and football). This can cause a huge problem for athletes who constantly use their arms. If you work through the pain and don't take care of the injury right away, the shoulder ligaments and tendons can degenerate causing further injury and future issues.
The best way to keep this from happening is to strengthen the muscles in the shoulders and to make sure you are taking care of your ligaments. Keeping them strong and healthy is extremely important. Here are some great stretches and exercises to maintain the shoulder.
Put your hands on each side of the doorway with your elbows at a 90 degree angle. Gently move your chest forward to stretch the fronts of your shoulders. Make sure you keep your back straight and don't overstretch.
Side Lying External Rotation
Lay on your side with a light weight in your upper arm. Bend your elbow at a 90 degree angle, resting your hand on the floor to start. Gently rotate your hand opening straight up, still keeping the 90 degree angle with your elbow. Hold the weight there for a few seconds before lowering it back to the floor.
Repeat this for 3 sets of 10 up to 3 times per day. Increase your reps and sets when it becomes easier. Don't push too hard too fast.
Secure a band in the door at about chest height. Kneel down holding the band in one hand. Gently pull the band down toward your hip keeping your back straight and your palm facing in.
Repeat this for 3 sets of 10. Only go as far as you can without straining or causing pain in your shoulder.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hitch forward slightly at the hips keeping your back straight and knees slightly bent. Hold light weights with palms facing in and elbows slightly bent. Slowly raise your arms up at the sides squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top.
Repeat this for 3 sets of 10.
Lawn Mower Pull
Stand with your feet about hip width apart and wrap the band under one foot. Holding the handles in the opposite hand, gently pull the band up the opposite side twisting to face front.
Repeat each side for 3 sets of 10.
If you experience any swelling, soreness/pain, change in color, heat, or tightness, visit your doctor immediately as this could be an indication of a worse injury. Don't do these exercises if you have a tear or are already experiencing the above symptoms.
Check out more information on shoulder injuries, prevention, and rehabilitation in A Dancer's Diary.
Until next time,