Aim: Very little is known about the potential for preventing the prevalence of shoulder complaints in handball players, particularly younger players. The aim of the present pilot study was to evaluate shoulder-strengthening program on shoulder complaints during a season of team handball.
Methods: Seven teams, consisting of 15 to 20 players each, were randomized into two groups throughout their competition seasons. Three teams (N.=53) participated in a six-month, three-times-a-week shoulder-muscle strength-training program while four teams (N.=56) participated in a comparable handball training program but did not conduct any specific upper-body strength training. Effects of this strength-training program were evaluated by comparing pre- and post-training data from a survey on shoulder complaints based on a self-report questionnaire, and from maximal strength test data.
Results: Overall, the shoulder strength-training showed positive effects on shoulder complaints prevalence; in the exercise group, the prevalence of players with shoulder pain decreased from 34 to 11%, while the control group increased the prevalence from 23 to 36%. The exercise group increased the shoulder-muscle strength significantly, compared to the control group.
Conclusion: By increasing shoulder-muscle strength, this pilot program potentially decreases the risk for shoulder complaints in handball athletes.