hmm there are no bad exercises really, more to do with the underlying problems of the person...
stretch the crap of out of neck, upper traps, pecs/subscap, lats and delts and see what happens to your shoulder pain.
Then strengthen the lower/mid traps, rear delts and scapulars. Get the scapulars firing properly and further note the pain in the shoulders or lack of
I had pain in my shoulders years ago even when driving a car. Thanks to years of hunching over on desk, computer or playstation! Presses, benches, pullups and dips eventually started to hurt as well. But I got it sorted
Now I press and bench heavy, do tons of throwing and play BBall
let me add some recent thoughts from my training journal -
Well today marks the day I finally cured my left shoulder impingement! Months of cuff work never did much for it. Rear delt and mid/lower trap worked helped a bit. Pec and lat ISO stretches and scapular control work helped a lot, and the final peice of the puzzle was lots of stretching of my neck/trap and shoulder muscles. I've been doing this stretch where you hold your hands behind your back and rotate the shoulder back and down hard, while stretching you neck in every possible direction several times a day for the last week. Combine that frequent rolling of the shoulders back and down with the mid traps and hardcore trap stretches.
I can do benches, pullups, dips and presses fine now. And that's with me doing 150+ throws 4 times a week. Whereas a few years ago even cuff work used to hurt like hell! Goes to show that those exercises aren't really as bad as people say, its more to do with the underlying problems of the person. For me it was - hunching over a computer or playing Playstation games for long periods of time = tight shoulders/necks and traps...
When trying to correct/recover from an injury or rehabilitate someone else, you have to look at the "big" picture. You need to take everything into account; work, posture, exercise, strength, flexibility, etc. I am of the belief that there is no bad exercise, but all exercises don't fit the individual. Overhead pressing will never cause any injury in some, but will in others because they lack the necessary flexibility or their shoulders sit in a slightly different anatomical position.
I guarantee that the cuff work you did helped you to improve. It will help most people given that these muscles are normally weak and there are muscle imbalances. You could not tell at the time because the slump/slouch posture is one of the main causes of impingement. (As a test,, bring your shoulders as far forward as you can. Now try to raise your arm overhead without pulling your shoulders back. What happens? What do you feel?)
Sorry for the long rant, but I deal with this just about every day. I am glad you are feeling better. Keep doing your stretches and your cuff work. This will help to prevent injury and use better posture when on the computer. (A strong rotator cuff will help to keep the humeral head from sliding forward in the glenoid fossa which would change the mechanics of the shoulder and would likely lead to more impingement as noted in the above test.)
I'm not saying the cuff work didn't help, but it didn't fix my immediate problems, and it's not like I have weak cuffs from all the cleans and snatches I did. I have done cuff work before when I was younger in my BBall only days and they helped fixed my shoudler problems I developed from BBall - taken from the 10min cuff solution book
So now that I had shoulder pain again I thought if it worked before, why not do the same stuff? Well it did nothing and even made it worse!
The problem was that with my shoulder and scapular control out of wack, that doing cuff work was making things worse because the muscles in there were getting torn up against the structures in there. Now that I have fixed this, it's not a problem, but I don't really need to do isolated cuff work anymore, since cuban snatch raise and other compound external rotation work no longer cause pain.
Scapular control and strength is something that isn't talked about as much as cuff work, but I feel it's way more important. Same for mid/lower trap strength and tight traps. Just about everything makes the upper traps tight - from olys, deads and shoudler/bench work etc
If a person can do presses fine as a teenager or younger then they have no genetic problems, if they then have problems later on then it's caused by the issues listed. Which can easily be fixed.
I never had any pain in shoulders when younger, I rember doing tons of bodyweight dips/chins and presses during my boxing craze period (which requires healthy shoulders). But when I started hitting the weights seriously a few years back they did eventually cause me pain, and had to modify my form to be able to do them with less pain, same for benching, but after sorting out my problems I no longer have the same issues with em
---- then later on
My shoulder no longer hurts doing thumbs up frontraises, so I added em today to strengthen and beef up my serratus anterior muscles. To further bring up my shoulder firing balance and bulletproof my shoulder health. Bit by bit I'm completing the healthy shoulder puzzle - each step opens up a door to go further onto good as new shoulders
My shoulder feels so good now, almost like new, they used to hurt a lot just even driving a car many years ago. I'm glad I started taking steps to stretch every tight thing (neck, traps, pecs, lats), strengthen (cuffs, mid/lower traps, rear delts, serratus, scapulars) and get proper firing balance back into the surrounding muscles when I did. Otherwise I'd probably be heading into surgery right now...