Two Injury-Prone Areas Bow Hunters Should Look For
If you think about the basic actions of shooting a bow – pull back with the fingers and arm, rotate through the shoulder, hold, and release – it probably becomes clear why upper extremity conditions are some of the most commonly diagnosed injuries among bow hunters. The drawing back of the strings demands a lot from the smaller muscles of the rotator cuff, forearm, wrist, and fingers. Plus, repetitive target practice to improve aim, timing, and other hunting skills can easily result in chronic pain or injury from overuse.
When a hunter pulls a bow that is set at 60lbs of force and shoots it 30 times to sight in their bow, this equates to 1800lbs of force on the shoulder joints!
Let’s take a look at two commonly injured areas in bow hunters:
The rotator cuff is made up of muscles and tendons that cover the top of the upper arm bone and attach to the shoulder blade, keeping the arm in the shoulder socket. It is a common source of shoulder pain, especially in bow hunters or people who perform a lot of overhead lifting, pulling, or rotating of the shoulder.
- Tendonitis – The rotator cuff tendons become irritated or damaged.
- Bursitis – The fluid-filled “pillow” that acts a cushion between the rotator cuff and shoulder blade becomes irritated or inflamed.
- Tears – Damage to the rotator cuff that results in significant pain and weakness. Tears can be caused by an acute injury, or the symptoms may gradually progress over time due to overuse.
Usually archers will complain of pain on the outside of their elbow after shooting. The pain will be most severe over the bump on the outside of your elbow. The pain will be worse when you straighten your arm and stress the lateral muscles. Repetitive shooting worsens the trauma to the area and increases the damage.
Medial elbow pain is slightly less common for archers. The medial muscles are stronger and your elbow is more stable in the flexed position. Still the repetitive trauma of shooting can cause inflammation and pain on the inside of the elbow. The pain will usually be located over the big bump (medial epicondyle) on the inside of your elbow.
The goal of any treatment plan is to relieve symptoms and restore function in the long-term, so that you can get back to the activities you enjoy. Our physical therapists can do a thourough evaluation of you. We will assess your condition, listen to your concerns, and develop a customized therapy program based on your individualized needs.