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What are the Most Common Causes of a Deltoid Tear?

By T. Alaine
Updated Jan 31, 2024
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Muscle tears are a type of strain that can cause pain and inflammation that limit the use of that muscle. The deltoid, which is a shoulder muscle, is susceptible to tears just like any other muscle. There are a variety of common causes for a deltoid tear. These include trauma, in which the deltoid receives a direct, blunt blow; misuse, in which the muscle is used awkwardly or is not properly warmed up before taxing physical activity; and overuse, in which the deltoid is not sufficiently rested between sessions of intense use. Deltoid tears are especially common during exercise.

Muscle tears are likely to result from experiencing trauma such as receiving a direct, blunt blow or impact. This type of injury can happen in a variety of situations, such as suffering a bad fall, getting hit by a heavy object, or being involved in an automobile accident. Most commonly, however, a deltoid tear that results from trauma is the result of a sport-related event. For example, an errant baseball or football slamming into the shoulder could produce symptoms of a strain or tear. Similarly, a body-check in hockey or tackling in football could also result in muscle trauma.

Unfortunately, misuse is an extremely common cause of deltoid strains and tears, although these situations are usually preventable. A deltoid tear caused by misuse can occur while performing mildly physical tasks such as stretching or twisting irregularly to reach something high up. More often, though, novice or negligent exercisers tear their deltoids by not warming up before exercise, by handling weights or other exercise equipment improperly, or by attempting to work out at levels beyond their abilities.

Not stretching or warming up before exercising means that muscles are tight, which makes them more susceptible to tearing. Simple warm-ups like light cardio activity, slowly lifting weights that are far lighter than maximum ability, swinging the arms, and stretching loosen up the muscles and can help prevent a deltoid tear. Checking to make sure exercises are being completed in good form and that all equipment is being utilized correctly can also prevent strains. Beginner exercisers would also be wise to start slowly to avoid overexerting themselves and risking a deltoid tear.

A common cause of deltoid tears that both novice and experienced exercisers make is over-training. Muscles that are not allowed adequate time to rest between workouts are highly susceptible to damage and injury. To prevent injuries such as a deltoid tear, it is advised that muscles are allowed 24-48 hours to recover in between workouts. Re-fueling the body with protein-rich foods, complex carbohydrates, and plenty of water can also help muscles repair quickly and can prevent a deltoid tear caused by intense working out.

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Discussion Comments
By AmberLianne — On Dec 13, 2013

In order to heal any soft tissue damage, such as a tear in the deltoid, you need blood flow. We all know that the most common and well known way for increasing circulation to a specific area is physical activity.

This, however, isn't always an option, especially for a shoulder injury that needs as much immobilization as possible. There is a BFST (Blood flow stimulation therapy) shoulder wrap that will actually promote nourishing circulation, while at rest. This is a great treatment.

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