Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.
Skip to main content

Tips for Returning to Sports After a Rotator Cuff Tear

Tips for Returning to Sports After a Rotator Cuff Tear

Your shoulder is an amazing joint, created for a wide range of motion and activities. The rotator cuff is at the heart of this body part, and an injury to it can be debilitating. 

Your rotator cuff is more accurately a group of muscles and tendons that work together to stabilize your shoulder joint. 

Rotator cuff tears can happen because of injuries, like from a fall or lifting something heavy, or from degeneration, the wear-and-tear processes common in athletes and active adults.

Symptoms of a rotator cuff tear include pain, especially at night, weakness in the arm, and difficulty performing overhead activities. 

While some minor tears can be managed with nonsurgical treatments — like physical therapy, medications, or steroid injections — many require surgery.

The board-certified providers at Ortho 1 Medical Group, with multiple locations in San Diego, Chula Vista, Coronado, and La Jolla, California, specialize in repairing rotator cuff tears using the most advanced surgical techniques. 

Whether you're an athlete or a weekend warrior, suffering from a rotator cuff tear can be a significant setback. It's not just the injury itself that's challenging; it's the journey back to your favorite activities that really tests your patience.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans with this injury, keep reading to learn our top tips for returning to sports after a rotator cuff tear so that you don’t jeopardize your health or risk another injury in the future.  

1. Embrace full recovery before hitting the field

The foundation of your return to sports is fully healing from either your nonsurgical or surgical repair. Rushing this process can lead to reinjury or even longer-term damage. 

Follow your recovery timeline, and keep communication lines open with your Ortho 1 Medical Group provider to monitor your progress. 

2. Focus on strength and flexibility

After a rotator cuff repair, regaining strength and flexibility in your shoulder is non-negotiable. Incorporate a targeted physical therapy regimen that focuses not just on your shoulder but also on overall upper body strength. 

Plus, you’ll want to keep up your strength and flexibility even after recovery. This holistic approach ensures balance and support for the injured area, reducing the risk of future injuries.

3. Slowly and steadily increase activity

When you've received the all-clear to return to sports, resist the temptation to jump back in at full throttle. Start with low-impact activities that allow you to gradually increase intensity without straining your shoulder. 

Prioritize exercises that enhance your range of motion, and be sure to warm up and cool down thoroughly before and after each session.

4. Listen to your body

Pain is a signal, not a challenge to overcome. Ignoring pain can derail your recovery and lead to further complications.

If you experience discomfort during or after playing, it's time to reassess your activities and consult with your Ortho 1 Medical Group provider.  

5. Protect progress after practice

Your responsibility to your shoulder doesn't end when the game does. Implement a post-activity routine that includes icing, rest, and possibly anti-inflammatory medication to manage swelling and discomfort. 

This proactive approach aids in recovery and prepares you for your next activity. Your shoulder is a complex joint, and keeping it healthy helps you stay in the game for the long run. 

6. Modify your approach to play

Sometimes, returning to your sport means making adjustments. This might involve altering your technique, changing your position, or using supportive gear. 

These modifications can help manage the demands on your shoulder, allowing you to continue playing while minimizing the risk of reinjury.

7. Surround yourself with support

An injury and the time it takes to recover can feel like a solitary journey, but it doesn't have to be something you do alone. Talk to your family and friends or engage with a community of athletes who have gone through similar experiences. 

Sharing tips, encouragement, and stories of your comebacks can provide motivation and a sense of belonging during your recovery process. 

Learn more about returning to sports after a rotator cuff tear by scheduling a consultation online or over the phone at the San Diego area Ortho 1 Medical Group office nearest you.

You Might Also Enjoy...

What to Do When Shoulder Pain Disrupts Sleep

Is pain in your shoulder making falling asleep a challenge or waking you up at night? Take a moment to learn what you can do to ease your discomfort and the ways we can help you reclaim your nights.

PRP Injections for Arthritis: What to Expect

Exploring your treatment options for arthritis and thinking about trying platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections? Learn how this treatment works, why it’s worth considering, and what you can expect after your therapy.
How Open Reduction and Internal Fixation Treats Fractures

How Open Reduction and Internal Fixation Treats Fractures

Some fractures need surgery to avoid serious complications. One type of surgical repair, called open reduction and internal fixation, is sometimes the best way to heal your broken bone and preserve your mobility. Here’s what you need to know! 
What to Expect After Bicep Tendon Repair

What to Expect After Bicep Tendon Repair

Feeling anxious about your upcoming biceps tendon repair and what to expect in the aftermath of surgery? Put your mind at ease and read on to learn more about this procedure and what you can expect for a smoother recovery.
Am I a Good Candidate for Total Knee Replacement?

Am I a Good Candidate for Total Knee Replacement?

Struggling with knee pain and debating if knee surgery might be right for you? Uncover the signs that you might be a good candidate and why expert consultation is crucial. Here’s what you need to know to make an informed choice.