T Nation

Crunchy Shoulder


Hi ladies and gents,

I'm a little bit worried about my shoulder at the moment because the joint feels like it's popping and crunching when I move it in certain planes. There is no pain but surely all the crunching isn't a good sign? The top of my shoulder also feels a little bit swollen to the touch but I could be imagining it.

To give you a bit of background, I do 3-4 upper body weights sessions a week (I don't do a seven-day split), and I usually do 3-4 sledgehammer sessions a week for conditioning. The crunching seemed to start in the evening after a sledgehammer session (I'm not sure when it came on) and is most noticeable when I draw my arm diagonally upwards and across my body.

In terms of shoulder injuries in the past, I sprained my AC joint (same shoulder) 2 years ago but it has since fully healed and I'm generally very careful of my shoulder health. This doesn't feel at all similar to that.

I'd be interested if anyone has had similar problems in the past and knows which way to go from here. For now I'm taking anti-inflammatories just to be safe, icing it, and being very careful with my ROM on upper body movements.

Thanks in advance,


p.s. I attached the unrelated pic as a reward for those who took the time to offer some advice!


Bump / Update:

There is no longer a crunching sound, but rather one click every time I move my arm upwards and across my body. Still no pain though.


tendinitis. i seperated my shoulder at the AC and had a crunching, snapping, popping feeling in my shoulder. its the inflammation of all the muscles that insert and originate in such a small area. Rest, ice will help post activity. warming up before the exercises for sure. if i were you i would definitely cut down on the sledge hammer work as OH movements are what seemed to bother me when I had the problem. do you not train your legs?

the more you use your shoulder the more aggravated it will be. swap some sledge hammer/upper body work for some leg work. work your rotator cuff muscles, stretch them as well. do rope face pulls to help strengthen the upper back as you may have a push pull imbalance in your workout? hope this helps


I do train my legs, I just didn't think my leg training was relevant in this case.

I have upped the intensity and volume in my upper body sessions so perhaps that's what has aggravated it if it is tendinitis. I'm not too worried about imbalances between pushing and pulling strength as my pulling strength is roughly equal to my pushing strength and my posture is good, however I will consider swapping the sledge sessions for some sprints or something to give my shoulder a rest. OH movements aren't the biggest problem for me as far as I can tell (not a lot of popping or cracking during those) but it gets quite noticeable during my bench press warm ups (strangely not on maximal lifts) and dips.

Thanks for the input, much appreciated.


Bench press also bothered me, somewhat like you, during warm ups not during sub maximal but during max work it would get loose. I would definitely lay off some of the sledge work as you said. try prowlers, bermuda triangles, hill sprints, etc. im still going with tendonitis though, keep up the glucosamine. try rolling your shoulder girdle, upper back with a baseball or lacrosse ball. seemed to help me. try the lay off for a bit.. also scar tissue build up and such also could play a roll. best of luck!


Cheers buddy I'll try some of those and let you know how it goes!