Aside from the physical injuries that boxers endure for their sport, many of them experience the same injuries that the average person can encounter. Because of the repetitious nature of punching while training, boxers commonly injure their shoulder. One of the most common of these shoulder injuries is rotator cuff impingement.
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that support the shoulder joint and allows it to move. When the shoulder is overused, as it often is in the long, daily training sessions boxers must complete, the muscles can become tired and start to rub against the bone and other tissues in the area. This leads to inflammation which can cause pain and limit the range of motion of the shoulder joint. When rotator cuff impingements are ignored, they lead to shoulder tendonitis or bursitis. Getting treatment as soon as pain begins is key to avoiding a chronic issue or weak spot.
Boxers must see a shoulder orthopedist like Dr. Leon E. Popovitz as soon as they experience shoulder pain. It is important to get an expert diagnosis to determine if there are multiple issues present if there is an underlying cause of the impingement such as a bone spur, and exactly which rotator cuff muscles are affected and to what extent. With this information, Dr. Popovitz can customize a treatment plan with a Sports Rehabilitation specialist.
Conservative methods for treating a rotator cuff impingement will first include ice and other anti-inflammatories to relieve pain and swelling in the area. Physical therapy can then begin. At first, manual therapy and stretching will help restore range of motion, flexibility, and motor control in the joint. After this, strengthening the rotator cuff muscle will be important for avoiding a future injury. Once the muscles have been conditioned, a Sports Medicine Rehabilitation specialist can guide a boxer through high-speed power and agility exercises to compensate for the weak spot in the shoulder and return the athlete to the ring.