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Returning to Sports After Shoulder Surgery

Are You Returning to Your Favorite Sport?

The construction of the shoulder joint makes it incredibly mobile but also puts it at risk for injury. Athletes are at particular risk. Pitchers, tennis players, and golfers fall victim to overuse; basketball and soccer players may fall on a shoulder, and football and rugby players can get hurt in a tackle. Even if an injury had nothing to do with an athlete’s particular sport, caution should be employed when heading back to the field, court, or golf course after a surgical repair for rotator cuff, shoulder dislocation, or shoulder instability.

Your orthopedic doctor in San Francisco will encourage you to return to sports gradually once the all-clear is given, and to take the following precautions.

Always Warm Up

Your rehabilitating shoulder needs a little extra care before play. Perform a thorough warm-up to increase circulation. Range-of-motion exercises that work your joint in all directions should be part of this warm-up. Arm circles, overhead shoulder presses, and lateral raises with light weights can be part of this warm-up.

Gradually Increase Duration

When you’re cleared for play, it doesn’t mean a full-on 18-hole round, pitching for an entire baseball game, or playing an intense three sets of tennis. Start with conservative and short periods of play and gradually work your way up to longer durations. Doing too much too soon can set your recovery back.

Do Not Play Through Pain

This should go without saying, but if a move hurts, don’t do it. Pushing through pain is not wise, especially when you’re dealing with a complex joint like your shoulder. If your sport requires a movement such as throwing a ball and it hurts, talk to your shoulder surgeon in San Francisco. He may recommend additional physical therapy to help strengthen muscles necessary for the movement or advise you to take more time off before returning to play.

Ice Afterward

Even if you don’t have immediate pain following practice or a game, it’s a good idea to ice your affected shoulder to keep inflammation and swelling at bay. Just 10-20 minutes after play can help.

Adhere to Physical Therapy

Even after you’ve been cleared for play, continue your physical therapy rehabilitation exercises  — such as those with light weights or a resistance band — to keep the joint mobile and strengthen muscles in the area. This can help support the shoulder joint and improve your performance as well as protect you from injury.

Manage Your Expectations

Your orthopedic surgeon in San Francisco will make every effort to return your shoulder to full function, but you may still have some lingering disability and discomfort requiring changes to accomodate for it. Though it may be hard to accept, recognize that it’s best for your overall health and function. Stay positive and appreciate the great things your body can do.

Are You Looking for a Shoulder Surgeon in San Francisco?

If you experience a shoulder injury that requires surgery, don’t hesitate to contact We offer TeleHealth appointments for an initial consultation or you can visit us in the office. Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht HERE for a consultation. He will manage you through your recovery and return to sports and other daily functions.

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