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AC Joint and Thoracic Mobility Help



First time, long time. I have a shoulder issue, that maybe someone can shed some good light on.. I'd really appreciate it.

Been lifting for about 5 years. 28 years old. I'm actually a personal trainer..

Every so often my AC joint on my right shoulder gets sore when I bench press. Only flat bench really, though I'm pretty sure that decline would do it too. A few years ago, someone told me that it was my anterior delt, or pec minor being tight, so I would stretch it out and not think much of it. I was stupid to believe that and not investigate the situation further on my own.. I know..

Anyway, it got bad enough that my right elbow is suddenly sore as of about 6 weeks ago. Medial epicondylitis. I'm pretty sure of it. I feel like I performed the valgus test correctly, and I think that should exclude any possibility of it being a UCL issue.. which is a good thing. I've been intermittently icing it, and ever since it started flaring up, I've completely laid off upper body work.

Since then, its just been squatting and deadlifting. I tried doing a light day horizontal pulling exercises with neutral elbows, but that flared the elbow up too. So back to just DL and squat.

My shoulder stability needs some work and has been improving. Lots of scap slides, which I'm quite good at now. I'm still pretty tight in most external rotation drills, the worst of which is lying on my back with my shoulders at 90.. but generally the mobility in all of those movements is pretty poor.

A lot of the musculature through my thoracic feels pretty tight, so I'm doing a lot of mobility work there.. rotations, ball rolling, foam rolling, etc.. also working on my posture.. staying retracted and not dropping my shoulders as I tend to do.. Also pretty much anything shoulder related that I find on mobilitywod.blogspot.com.. which.. that dude is awesome.

So anyway, sorry for the long post, but the end of the deal is that I can still feel my AC joint aching when I test it with push ups of various hand positions, my elbow still aches off and on throughout the day, and about 2 days a week some of the fibers in my mid traps are really really tight.

I don't know whether the issue stems from my serratus, or if I'm benching too much and pulling too little (I'm very balanced in that,) or my shotty posture or whatever. But I was expecting to feel a bit better by now, and I've barely noticed any improvement at all..

So does anyone have any ideas? Any help or insight would be greatly appreciated.


Was there any trauma to the AC joint? Do you have a step-deformity at all? Are you sure it is the actual AC joint giving you problems or something else? It seems like only horizontal pushes are causing pain. What about vertical pushes or any other movement?


Hey man, thanks for the reply!

Never any trauma to the AC joint.. and no step deformity. I'm pretty sure that its the AC joint.. unless the pain is referring from somewhere else. Specifically, I feel the ache right at the distal end of my right clavicle, right about where my pectoral ends and my anterior deltoid begins.. so AC joint right?

Also, I should have remembered to mention this stuff in the first place, but vertical pulling really seems to irritate it too. Especially pull ups, and other shoulder adduction movements. Vertical pressing doesn't bother it. Single joint horizontal add. is probably the worst.. i.e. flys and cable cross. I don't really do much of that anyway, but they do hurt.