T Nation

Dealing with Shoulder Pain and Dips

Back in high school, I got a pretty nasty dislocation of my right shoulder while wrestling, which ended up with a partial rotator cuff tear. Being an impatient teen, I half-assed the therapy to get back in the gym, which has led to recurring issues of shoulder stability. I get subluxation of the shoulder somewhat frequently if the humerus gets put in a compromising position, and can aggravate the RC if I do a lot of heavy, high volume work. The shoulder is actually ~1/2" lower than my left, with a bit less mobility as well.

I do band work daily to keep the supporting musculature strong, and I know my limits and try to work within them at all times. I’ve never had a sublux while doing any barbell work, but I do get some pretty bad discomfort when doing dips. This sucks, because I love dips, and could stand to bring up my triceps and rear delts.

I’ve tried performing them while remaining straight vertical, as well as with a forward lean. Wide or narrow grip. It always feels like the humerus is being pushed up/into the clavicle or shoulder capsule, which is both painful and worrisome, given my injury history.

I love doing weighted chins, and would like to be able to do weighted dips as well, but I don’t want to exacerbate the injury. Are there any tips or positions that you can recommend for mitigating the stress on the joint, or otherwise helping me out?

I’ve had some issues myself so I will try to help you as best I can. There can be several things going on. I would get on YouTube and watch Kelly Starrett as much as you can. He talks about shoulder pain often being either motor-control (basically you are doing the movement wrong) or postural, or mobility issues. He’s really big on taking a double lacrosse ball and restoring suppleness to your T-Spine and for your lower ribs when you have an issue with horizontal press (upper ribs for over head pressing).

Basically if your ribs gets tight our scapula ability to move and function correctly becomes impaired. He has some very nice mobilizations that work wonders. Missing internal rotation of the shoulder is another common theme that could cause what you are describing. These are just some common themes that can potentially cause issues as you have described. Check out his mobility WOD on setting your shoulder in the back of the socket with a Kettlebell.

If you’re like me you love to lift and want to get 100% healthy so you can be the best you can be. I would put 100% faith in Kelly though, he is a genius at what he does. I hope what I typed helps and you get better. I did all the corrective exercises in the world once, and then found him and within a few days was normal. Good Luck and best wishes!

Areas Kelly talks about mobilizing for the dip are:

Thoracic Spine

Anterior Shoulders and Lats

Posterior Shoulders and Chest

Downstream Arm (Wrist and Elbow)

There are other exercises for triceps and rear delts that wouldn’t aggravate your shoulder as much.

Thanks Sput, I’ve heard his name come up many times in dealing with mobility issues, so I’ll definitely give him a look. I foam roll and use various balls (golf and baseball currently, no LAX ball handy) for myofascial release nightly, but I never mind expanding my toolbox.

[quote]seekonk wrote:
There are other exercises for triceps and rear delts that wouldn’t aggravate your shoulder as much. [/quote]

Any suggestions? I love facepulls, and try to do a few sets on any day that I have H-pressing to help counterbalance the movement. I just have a hard time with getting my tri’s hit and pumped.