female tennis player with yellow kinesiology tape on upper arm

To Ice, to Tape, To Shoulder Brace

The shoulder, with its ball-and-socket joint, has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body.  Since this is so, it is also the joint which is most easily prone to injury.  Injuries can occur while performing routine daily activities when the arm is extended above the head such as while washing windows or putting dishes into an overhead cabinet.  In addition, overuse and impact injuries can come while playing sports, particularly baseball and football.  Depending on the severity of the injury, there are different options to help promote healing.


To Ice

Immediately following an injury, it is often beneficial to ice the shoulder in 15-minute intervals.  Ice can be applied for 15 minutes, three times a day for two to three days by applying an ice bag or ice pack to the area.  Ice should never be applied directly to the skin; a protective layer should always be present between ice and the skin to prevent frostbite.  Icing the shoulder will help to prevent swelling, while applying heat can be helpful when treating a chronic injury by increasing blood flow to the muscle, which will keep the muscle loose.


To Tape

Kinesiology tape will also help with blood flow to the muscle, as its specialized adhesive placed in a wave-like pattern microscopically lifts the skin from the muscle.  When kinesiology tape is applied correctly using an appropriate taping method, it can help the affected shoulder to heal using the best of the body’s restorative abilities.  Kinesiology tape is especially helpful for rotator cuff injuries.


To Shoulder Brace

A moderate injury may require that the shoulder’s movement be restricted, but not immobilized entirely.  In that case, an arm sling may be helpful to provide gentle support while still allowing the joint to have some motion.

When an injury is severe, immobilization and/or surgery are sometimes required.  When this is the case, a shoulder brace is often an essential piece needed on the road to recovery.  Shoulder braces provide support for the shoulder, as well as providing pressure which reduces the increased space in the joint caused by the injury.  Some shoulder braces also allow for the shoulder to be completely immobilized, which can be conducive to the healing of this type of injury.

If you think that you have injured your shoulder, it is always wise to consult a medical professional to determine the best treatment for your particular injury.  He or She will be able to advise you on additional icing/heat techniques, kinesiology taping techniques, and whether an arm sling or shoulder brace might be appropriate in treating your condition.