• By DeeDee Stiepan

Mayo Clinic Minute: Avoiding overhead sports injuries

October 27, 2021

Many popular sports require overhead motion that can increase injury risk over time. Injuries in the shoulder and elbow that far-reaching sports can contribute to are on the rise. In this Mayo Clinic Minute, Dr. Kelechi Okoroha, a Mayo Clinic orthopedic surgeon, explains what athletes can do to avoid these types of injuries.

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Sports with an overhead arm motion, such as baseball, tennis, volleyball and even swimming, can contribute to a common group of injuries in the shoulder and elbow ― all of which are on the rise.

"In the shoulder, you can have labral tears or slap tears. In the elbow, you can have injuries of the elbow ligaments, such as the UCL," explains Dr. Okoroha.

Improper technique when doing overhead and throwing sports is a main contributing factor in these types of injuries.

"If you're throwing improperly, you're using the wrong mechanics, you're throwing with poor form that can lead to injury, or (you've experienced) an acute trauma. Also, if you get hit or your shoulder dislocates, that can also lead to injury," says Dr. Okoroha.

To avoid getting sidelined for weeks if not months from an overhead sports injury, athletes should focus on good mechanics and avoid fatigue.

"When you're exhausted, you make mistakes. You can have poor form."

Dr. Okoroha says athletes should not "power through" shoulder or elbow pain.

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