T Nation

27 y/o with 9 Year Shoulder Injury/Frozen Shoulder

Hi everyone, and thanks in advance for your time and thoughts.

I joined this site for TRT info but I noticed that this injury forum was active so figured what the heck lets give it a whirl… If anyone wants to see my blood stats/symptoms of possible low T then see my other post.

About 9 years ago when I was 18 I was probably over-training and during an incline chest press with 80 lb dumbbells my stupid spotter had me do a few extra reps and did not keep my arm from falling back–and stupidly, not wanting to drop the weight on the guys foot I tried to control its fall and ended up hurting my left shoulder–the front , the top, the upper lats, basically that whole area.

Now–from that you might be imagining horrible tears, well it felt more like pain that was bothersome for a while, but nothing extreme. I DID take it seriously and went to my PCP who sent me to an ortho , who took xrays and mris --both came back negative. He said that the supraspinatus was possible micro torn but did not show on an mri.

So I did physical therapy for a few months, and tried to slowly build strength back. Looking back, I think I tried to lift too heavily too soon and possibly made it worse. But my doctor supported strengthening it back up and in physical therapy we were doing lifts–lat pull, arm bike, chest press, shrugs and reverse shrugs with a machine, lateral raises etc. So after therapy I continued these in the gym.

Now, maybe my lower test/E2 levels have influenced my slow healing, I couldn’t say, but nothing I do ever got me back to 100%. I did then end up taking about 3 years off from the gym as college got hard and I developed sciatica. I focused more on yoga, relation, massage, acupuncture etc , which honestly was much needed at the time.

Fast forward to grad school a few years later (the past 5 years…ugh), and I made the decision that if I was going to be at 80% (slight pain) with my shoulder without lifting or with lifting then I may as well slowly rehab the muscles. I also was loosing functional strength when I wasn’t lifting , where lifting an apple juice container or something with my bad arm would hurt/be risky.

So I’ve slowly built my shoulder up using light weights and conservative lifting–not too many “big lifts” lots of isolation work, lifting to 80-90% exertion max , not pushing it with pre workout twitchy powders.And I’ve definitely regained strength, I have noticeable deltoid definition there now , and although I’m still only using 15 lbs for lateral raises with that arm/35 lbs for presses with that arm–that’s *significantly more than I’ve ever been able to do post-injury. (Pre injury I’d use 25 or 27.5lbs for lateral raises each arm and 50 lbs each for shoulder presses for 3x10 reps after warmup set).

Overall I’d say my shoulder health has improved, I’ve regained a bit of flexibility, etc. But, things like dips, bench, and other certain things (including pushing any lift past 85-90% exertion level) still really hurt my shoulder. It’s not like–snap–pain, its a slow aching pain that will happen after. I can’t even do the arm bike for more than a few minutes without aching after in this shoulder.

My question is–since we know nothing showed up on the xray/mri and given my history with what makes it better or worse, does anyone have any advice for how I should proceed in the future? Are there different workouts/exercises anyone would suggest for shoulder/rotator cuff? Should I maybe go see a physical therapist again? More compound lifts with lighter weight? More stretching? Supplementation etc? --I am also in the process of talking to urologists about hormone levels to perhaps this will help too in the future.


Sounds like Shoulder Impingment.

You were hurt, lost range of motion in your shoulder, so your exercise selection was limited. Doing less moves limited your shoulder range of motion, like the degrees you could move your arm through. Reduced ROM further limited exercise selection, which further reduced shoulder ROM…

Now, nothing is broken, you just have a super small range of motion in your shoulder joint. You can’t move your shoulder properly to lift properly.

First priority is to restore shoulder ROM.

A simple, unweighted movement.

Keep stretching and moving until you can get your arm all the way around.

Then start training the muscles at the “ends” of your current ROM. Rear Delts, lats, triceps for shoulder extension

And serratus and some other little under arm muscles for flexion.
Jim Wendler, “Shoulder Rehab, Wendler Style.”
"On my chin-up bar, I hung a sled strap that has two looped ends. Through these looped ends, I hung a 45-pound barbell. (See pictures)


I grabbed the barbell with a narrow grip, flexed my triceps, and walked forward until the barbell was overhead. I pulled the barbell overhead and squeezed my traps and held it there for a few seconds before slowly returning to the starting position, making sure to keep the triceps flexed and arms locked.

On week 5, I did this 1-2 times per day for sets of 5 to 10 reps. On week 6, I did the same routine, but once I got to the top I’d lower the barbell (as if I was lowering a press) until I felt pain. At that point, I’d press the barbell back up into the straps and hold it. I did sets of 5 reps of this modified press. Again, I’d do the modified press 1-2 times per day for 1-3 sets of 5 reps."

Wow, thank you for this! :slight_smile: So helpful!

Sure man, I hope this stuff is useful.

Holler if If you need any clarifcation or more info, or whatever. I’ve got a ton of pics and links on this stuff.

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Look up brachiating, or passive hanging. has changed my life.

I was constantly getting impingements from sleeping on my shoulder.

Hang, for 2 minutes a day, 30 seconds at a time. 4 30 second sessions.

Minor pain/discofort is OK. Look it up though. Game changer

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Right on! I appreciate that, I have the same issue with sleeping on that side, drives my gf nuts lol.

Hey man, sorry to hear. Shoulder injuries are the worst.
You got a arthro MRI to check the labrum? because the regular MRI doesn’t show much.
Pec minor problems can cause anterior shoulder pain.
And how is the scapula moving?

Check it out Trevor Bachmeyer’s channel on YouTube, it’s called Smashwerx, I cured my 2 years elbow and biceps tendonitis with his mobility drills in the past.
There is a lot of videos on shoulder problems, find what it fits best for you and work on that eod.
I hope you get better, friend.

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