The Athlete's Trouble Spots: Knees and Shoulders | STACK

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

The Athlete's Trouble Spots: Knees and Shoulders

March 12, 2013 | Featured in the Spring 2013 Issue

Must See Sports Injuries Videos

Whether it’s a car a computer or a relationship, everything has a breaking point. Our bodies are no different. We can get shut down by an acute injury (like a football hit causing a torn knee ligament) or by general wear and tear over time (like a pitcher’s overused shoulder). The secret to longevity isn’t whether or not you break; it’s how well you recover and repair when you do.

Just like your car, you’ll get a lot more mileage out of your body if you perform routine maintenance, like stretching and developing functional strength. You want to use your muscles without overusing them. That’s especially true for two common trouble areas for athletes—knees and shoulders.


Sandwiched between the two longest bones in the body—the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (shin bone)—the knee works like a door hinge, bending in only one direction, backward. This limited range of motion—combined with the heavy stress placed on the knee and the high potential for torque (twisting motions)—means the knee is constantly at risk for strains and other injuries.

The most common knee ailment? A torn meniscus. Shaped like a suction cup, the meniscus adds stability to the knee joint, keeping the round bottom of the thigh bone sitting nicely on top of the shin bone. The meniscus also produces synovial fluid to lubricate cartilage. If your knee goes zig while the rest of your body zags, your meniscus can tear.


The shoulder houses two joints connecting three bones—the clavicle (collarbone), scapula (shoulder blade) and humerus (long bone in the upper arm). The two joints allow you to rotate your arms in multiple directions. Your rotator cuff is made of tendons and ligaments that keep the shoulder joints in place and allow you to move them in so many ways.

Overuse those ligaments, like baseball pitchers often do, and you risk tearing muscles or tendons around the shoulder. To build up your rotator cuff muscles in the off-season, avoid the pitching motion for several months. And never perform shoulder exercises without being able to see your hands.

Dr. Mike Roizen and Dr. Mehmet Oz
- Doctors Mike Roizen and Mehmet Oz, authors of four New York Times #1 bestsellers on health, entertain and educate athletes on choices that can make...
Dr. Mike Roizen and Dr. Mehmet Oz
- Doctors Mike Roizen and Mehmet Oz, authors of four New York Times #1 bestsellers on health, entertain and educate athletes on choices that can make...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Will Joel Embiid Be Able to Succeed in the NBA?

Even while recovering from a recent foot surgery and back injury Joel Embiid was chosen number three overall by the Phildelphia 76ers in the NBA draft...

How to Train With Running Blisters

The Future of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

10 Ways to Fix Back Pain

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

3 Reasons to Correct Your Weak Links to Prevent Common Injuries

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

How to Treat Piriformis Syndrome

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

3 Causes of Recurring Hamstring Injuries

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

Achilles Tendon Ruptures: Prevention and Recovery

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

7 Ways to Fix Back Pain

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

Basketball Players: Prevent Ankle Sprains With These 3 Exercises

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

Why a Sports Hernia Won't Ruin Jadeveon Clowney's Rookie Season

How to Bench Press With a Shoulder Injury

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

6 Ways to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

Coaches: Prevent Injuries With the Recovery Management Tool

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field