Rotator Cuff Strain After Cross Country Skiing

An injury to your rotator cuff will end your day on the trail.
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Cross country skiing can be a fun way to get out into nature and enjoy a winter day. However, you can find yourself in a lot of pain if you aren't careful. Shoulder pain is a common injury for cross country skiers, and strained rotator cuffs are especially common. You won't be able to continue your day on the trail if you injure your rotator cuff, as the pain and limited mobility will make it incredibly difficult to continue skiing.

Cause of Rotator Cuff Strain

You can strain your rotator cuff in a number of ways, but one of the most common cause, according to the Mayo Clinic, is repetitive stress. Repeating strenuous motions over and over can cause inflammation in your shoulder muscles and the rotator cuff in particular. Cross country skiing can be particularly taxing due to the repetitive nature of pulling yourself forward with the poles during your stride.

Simple Treatment

If the strain is minor, a simple regiment of rest and ice might be enough to get you back out onto the trails. If pain persists, however, you may need to spend some time with a physical therapist. According to the Mayo Clinic, a physical therapist will work to improve your flexibility in the shoulder to alleviate pressure from your rotator cuff and allow for the inflammation to subside.

Severe Strain Treatment

If you have a severe strain or tear, you may have to take more drastic measures to fully recover. If the pain is severe, your doctor could choose to try a steroid injection into the muscle to relieve the inflammation. If your rotator cuff gets bad enough, you could end up going under the knife. Some cases are severe enough that doctors are forced to go into the shoulder and repair small to severe tears to allow the rotator cuff to heal.


The preferred path for rotator cuff injuries is most often prevention. To keep your shoulders healthy, you'll want to avoid over-exertion. Know your limits and respect them in terms of your activity level. It also helps to have as much flexibility in your shoulders as possible. This opens up the pathways for your muscles to go through and minimizes the chances of impingement. Balancing all of the muscles in your shoulder will also help keep your rotator cuff strong, which will help prevent some injuries.

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