Can Playing Pool Cause Shoulder Pain? What to Be Aware Of

shoulder pain

Whether you are a casual player or a bit more competitive, playing pool (also known as billiards) is a great way to stay physically and mentally active while enjoying the full social life that goes along with it.  But are there risks to playing this seemingly low-impact game?

Playing pool can in fact cause shoulder pain and in more serious cases – playing the sport can lead to long-term or recurring shoulder injuries.  Despite the possible risk, millions of people have found a love for the game – so why not you?

No different than other sports – the slight potential for pain or injury from playing shouldn’t keep you from playing the game.  That being said – having awareness about possible injuries, and learning how to prevent and even treat them can help you enjoy years of comfortable play. Keep reading to learn more about shoulder pain caused by playing pool.

Can Playing Pool Cause Shoulder Pain?

Consider for a moment how your body moves when you play pool – it’s about a precise movement starting at your shoulder, all the way down to your grip.  Your goal is to have a controlled, consistent movement that you can predict, which requires a great deal of practice. 

With practice, comes repetition. 

This repetitive motion in your shoulder joint is a key contributor in developing a condition known as “swimmers shoulder”.  Essentially, the repetitive movement creates irritation and inflammation and can lead to tearing and scarring of the shoulder tendons.

While stiffness and soreness from using muscles and joints while playing are common, swimmer’s shoulder is less common but more serious. It can prevent the joint from moving as smoothly as it should and lead to more severe conditions – including labrum or rotator cuff tears.  

As we said, we aren’t believers that a potential injury should keep you from all the great benefits and fun of playing.  There is plenty you can do before you play, while you’re playing and even afterward that will help limit the stiff and sore feeling and help prevent more serious injury.  

Recognizing the Symptoms of Swimmer’s Shoulder 

While it’s not super common among pool players, swimmer’s shoulder is a possibility to be aware of.  Recognizing the symptoms when they arise can aid in a more timely diagnosis by your doctor, leading to quicker treatment and recovery and ideally minimal term damage.  

Some common symptoms of swimmer’s shoulder are:

  • Weak or tired muscles
  • Limited range of motion
  • Pain or discomfort in the joint

If any of these symptoms arise, or you find that they are a continual problem with your game, it’s a great time to heed your body’s signals and rest while you consult a doctor.

How to Heal Shoulder Pain from Playing Pool

The consultation of a doctor should always be sought for any type of medical treatment since doing the wrong thing can make it worse. The team over at Coastal Orthopedics has provided an in-depth list of treatment options that you can consider talking with your doctor about.

A few common treatments for swimmer’s shoulder are:

  • Icing the injured shoulder
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medications
  • Rest
  • Ultrasound
  • Physical therapy treatments
  • Chiropractic treatments
  • Specific exercises for your injury
  • Body mechanics
  • Stretches

Again – your doctor can prescribe the best treatment path for you, but having the resources and understanding of the potential diagnosis can help you be an active part of your diagnosis and treatment.

What Are the Health Benefits of Playing Pool?

The idea of a potential injury can be scary, and we’ll share how to prevent and manage that, but understanding all the benefits that pool can bring to your life will help you determine if playing the sport is the right risk for you.  

Here are a few:

  • Burns Calories
  • Increases flexibility
  • Improves Balance
  • Enhances critical thinking skills
  • Improves hand-eye coordination
  • Increases self-control
  • Builds relationships and connections
  • Engagement with players of all ages and skill sets

Now, let’s see how you can prevent shoulder injuries while playing pool.

How Can I Prevent Shoulder Injuries While Playing Pool?

Prevention is always the first step. While one of the key ways to prevent this type of injury is simply avoiding the repetitive movement/strain on the joint – we know you’re reading this article  because you want to play.

Here are a few tips on how to prevent injury:

  • Learn and practice good body mechanics. 
  • Stretch and warm up your muscles and joints
  • Rest when your body needs it 
  • Listen to your body and rest when you need it. 
  • Practice active and static stretching  

Proper body mechanics is a newer concept to many players, but because pool players use precise movements – understanding and using proper body mechanics helps your health and your game. 


While playing pool could potentially cause shoulder pain because of the repetitive and precise movements involved in playing the game, there are plenty of things you can do to stay aware of potential issues, prevent injury and even treat this discomfort with the help of your doctor.


Benny is the owner of Supreme Billiards and has been shooting pool and teaching people how to shoot pool for a few years now. He enjoys showing new players techniques and drills to improve their pool game.

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