Shoulder injuries are common occurrences in a wide variety of sports, ranging from traditional sports like basketball and volleyball, to extreme sports such as skateboarding and wakeboarding. Shoulder injuries may range from simple dislocations, to more complicated fractures and ligament tears. To provide first aid for these injuries, and to prevent further exacerbation and aggravation of any injuries, you will have to learn how to immobilize a shoulder with an ace bandage. This is a simple technique that will be easy to learn, so just follow these simple steps and you’re on your way to providing the cornerstone of first aid for shoulder injuries.
- The first step involved is placing the ace bandage all around your shoulder. This will provide the foundation for your immobilization. Make sure your bandaging is stable and secure. It will be best for you to begin at the top of the shoulder blades. Secure the initial immobilization by wrapping the bandage around the injured shoulder twice. You will have to make it pass under your arms, keeping it snugly fit to your armpits. This should not be too loose nor too tight – too loose, you then fail to immobilize the shoulder, while if it’s too tight, you cut off circulation, preventing healing. Make sure you keep it as tight as possible without hurting the shoulder more. Remember, your objective is to provide a solid foundation for the immobilization.
- You will do the first step at least twice. After you make your second pass around the injured shoulder, take the bandage. You will then have to bring it around the back, and bind it across your chest. Wrapping the bandage around the body, you will have to pass under the arm contralateral to the injured shoulder. After binding both your back and chest, bring the bandage back to the injured point of the shoulder. This step further immobilizes the injured shoulder by bringing it close and preventing any unnecessary movement. As in the previously described step, you will have to keep it as snug a fit as possible without cutting off the blood flow or hampering breathing. Most first timers make the mistake of overzealously tightening the ace bandages, leading to difficulty breathing and potential aggravation of injury. The key words for you to remember are SECURE and SNUG, not TIGHT.
- If you have a bandage that is long enough, you can provide further immobilization of the shoulder by taking the bandage one more time around the back and across the chest, and securing it at a level above the elbow of the injured arm instead of a point above the injury. This will provide another level of immobilization that will secure the shoulder in a more stable fashion.
- Make one final run around the back and under the uninjured arm, and fasten the ace bandage in front of the chest with the provided bandage fastener.
It will be best for you to practice on uninjured people to gain confidence and mastery of this simple procedure. Remember to keep composure during the binding. Don’t aggravate any injuries by making unnecessary movements.