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FIFA Diploma in Football Medicine: Shoulder Injuries

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Shoulder Anatomy Video

1. How common is this injury in soccer?

  • Goalkeepers are the most likely players to have a shoulder injury.

2. Causes

  • ACJ (Acromioclavicular joint) sprain almost always occurs after a fall onto the “point” of the shoulder. Feel the bony prominence at the outside edge of the shoulder.
  • Shoulder instability almost always happens when the arm is in an abducted and externally rotated position (like when you are about to throw/release a ball).

3. Risk (Contributing) Factors

  • Family history of joint laxity (loose joints or “double jointed”)

4. Self Examination

  • ACJ pain is typically very well localized – meaning it is targeted to just that area. Exercises like bench pressing and push-ups may make it worse.
  • Rotator cuff pathology (problem) is often felt deep within the deltoid region. The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles in the shoulder that help stabilize the arm bone (humerus) in the socket. They also help rotate the shoulder. Exercises like shoulder presses or reaching overhead may make it worse.
  • Pain that refers below the elbow is more likely to be referred from the cervical spine (nerves in neck).
  • A dislocated shoulder is felt as a “heavy arm” that is very difficult to move. There is a very high recurrence rate (>90%) in young athletes.
  • A collar bone (clavicle) fracture usually occurs in the mid 1/3 of the clavicle.

Examination procedures (what the doctor does – make accurate diagnosis)

  • A thorough examination by a physician should pinpoint the injury.
  • There may be a need for an X-ray, diagnostic ultrasound, or MRI to further diagnose the injury.


  • Exercises can be performed to help rehabilitate as well as reduce the likelihood of injuries.

Shoulder Exercise Videos

Team Snap

The above information is intended solely for the general information for the reader. The contents of this article are not intended to offer personal medical advice, diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provider for any advice on medications and medical conditions.