Common Injuries for Overhead Athletes & Tips to Prevent Them

“Overhead athletes” refer to any athlete that participates in a sport that requires moving their upper arm and shoulder in an overhead arc. The most common overhead sports include baseball, softball, basketball, football, tennis, volleyball, and swimming. Participating in these sports places athletes at increased risk of shoulder injury because they require rapid and repetitive overhead motion, placing stress on the shoulder joint.

However, overhead athletes aren’t the only people who can develop shoulder injuries. Occupations like construction, carpentry, mechanical repair and assembly workers, house painters, maintenance workers, and more are all at risk of developing overhead injuries over time. If you or someone you know is at risk of developing an overhead injury, keep reading to learn more about the most common shoulder injuries and what steps can be taken to prevent them. We’ll also discuss how we treat these injuries with non-surgical and minimally invasive options to help you continue achieving your best!

Common Injuries for Overhead Athletes

There are many injuries that can develop in the shoulder as a result of repetitive and rapid overhead movement, but the most common include bursitis, shoulder impingement, tendonitis, rotator cuff injury, strains, and sprains. Not only can these injuries make working or sports difficult, but they may even affect your ability to perform daily tasks like getting dressed.


Bursitis is a condition in which the bursae become inflamed. Wondering what the bursae are? These are small, fluid-filled sacs that provide padding for the bones, tendons, and muscles near the joints. When these sacs become inflamed because of frequent repetitive motion, it can make moving the affected joint difficult and painful. The shoulder is one of the most common locations where bursitis develops.

Shoulder Impingement

In some cases, the tendons or nerves of the rotator cuff may become pinched as they pass between the top of the upper arm and the tip of the shoulder. This can cause numbness, pain, or muscle weakness and is known as shoulder impingement.


The rotator cuff is made up of muscles and tendons in the shoulder that connect the upper arm bone to your shoulder blade. When this area or the biceps tendon develops inflammation it is known as tendonitis

Rotator Cuff Injury

Rotator cuff injury refers to when the tendon becomes either partially or completely detached from the upper arm.  In most cases, a rotator cuff injury happens over time as tendons begin to develop tearing and fraying. As the injury progresses, the tendon may completely tear.

Strains and Sprains

Shoulder sprains develop when the ligaments of the shoulder overstretch or tear. Strains, however, are when the fibers in shoulder muscles or tendons overstretch or tear. Strains and sprains can limit your mobility, such as lifting your arms. This may lead to acute or chronic pain.

Preventing Overhead Injuries

Proper Technique and Form

The most common reason why these injuries develop is improper technique while participating in sports. Focusing on good mechanics and avoiding activity when tired can help avoid injuries caused by poor technique. If your occupation puts you at risk of developing a shoulder injury, being mindful of using proper posture and form can help you avoid injuries as well.

Muscle Strengthening

Adding muscle strengthening to your workout by lifting weights or performing body-weight exercises like planks or push-ups will strengthen your muscles, helping prevent injury.


Taking time to stretch on a daily basis will warm up muscles for any activity, whether it’s a sport, your job, or any other activity that requires shoulder power. Regular stretching also increases the flexibility of muscles, making them less likely to tear and become injured during activity. 

Avoid Lifting Heavy Objects Overhead

Even if your occupation requires you to lift heavy objects, you can still take the following precautions and avoid lifting them over your head. 

When lifting anything heavy, keep it at or below waist level. It’s also recommended that you keep the item close to your body, use your legs to lift, and stand up straight while lifting. Holding a heavy object away from your body or lifting it up over your head can easily cause a rotator cuff tear, especially when done frequently and repeatedly.

Treatment for Injuries in Overhead Athletes in Glen Mills, PA

If you or someone you know has already sustained a shoulder injury resulting from overhead activity, get the care you need to get back to optimal performance at the Center for Sports Medicine and Wellness. We provide both non-surgical options like Bone Marrow Concentrate, Alpha 2 Macroglobulin Injection, Autologous Stem Cell Injection Therapy, Perineural Superficial Injections, and minimally invasive options like Tenex Tenotomy and Ultrasound Guided Nerve Hydrodissection.

Our team is proud to be experts in the most advanced orthobiologic and minimally invasive treatments for our patients. We understand that our patients’ top priority is to successfully recover from their conditions while getting back to their lives or their sports as quickly as possible. We’re proud to provide the most advanced options that allow our patients to restore their mobility without a lengthy recovery period.

If you’d like to learn more about our services or contact us to schedule a consultation, please call our office in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, at (610) 459-4200 or fill out our form. We welcome your inquiry and we look forward to helping you get back to the game of life!

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