T Nation

Dislocated Shoulder


What a beautiful workout it was today. Clipped my mp3 player, pumped some real rock, and beat the hell out of the weights.

...only to trip on a step as I rushed home in the rain and fell flat on my face with left arm extended. If you've dislocated your shoulder, you know how painful it gets. Doctor said it went in so easily it will probably dislocate just as easily.

I know quite of 'youse' have dislocated shoulders before. Can you give me some pointers on what to expect from here? What can I expect for pull-ups, presses, deadlifts?

Considering I'm an aircraft mechanic and work A LOT overhead, I may consider an operation to permanently fix my shoulder. Any hints on what to expect from such an operation, including risk and cost?

I'v been a long time 'frequenter' of T-Mag, although I've been 'off' for a while. But it shows you where we end up turning to for lifting advice.

Thanks for any insight!


Thanx for the info. Still enjyoing my morphine joy-ride and just about to pass out.

Will lighter tasks pose a risk though - i.e., holding a wrench directly overhead?

I'm concerned about my money-maker as an Air Force mechanic, and REALLY don't want to be forced into another career field.


I dislocated my shoulder twice while i was a boxer so i feel your pain man.

I was warned against surgery by two specialists as they said it an absolute last resort. With that, if you were to further hurt your shoulder after surgery, YOU ARE FUCKED!

They put me on physio (which i have to remain on for the rest of my life because i still weight train), then they fitted me for an elastic t-shirt type thing (i don't remember what its called). It sort of resembles a bench shirt but doesn't provide extra strength, only added stability. These type of shirts keep your body wrapped tight, decreasing any chance of your shoulder popping out. GET ONE!

I personally can't do ANY exercise with a wide-grip as it is fucking unbearable. I can't do anything behind the neck, like presses, chins or extensions. But, since i can only do close-grip presses, my triceps have fucking exploded!

Good luck and try not to rely on anti-inflams


Did I just not see this thread today?

Sorry, I posted the exact same frickin' question. Thanks for the responses above.


Hi, I don't think you should concider surgery at this point. I have dislocated, or maybe subluxated my left arm twice, 7 years in between. If I had done my homework the first time I'm confident that the second time it wouldn't have happened.

The important thing to realize is that everyones experience with this is different.

I have never had problems with overheadwork after my two dislocations, and when it comes to lifting i prefer this to horizontal pressing.

Your shoulder will be uncomfortable for a period now and you must let it rest and heal up. Don't try to return to work or lifting for some weeks (I took over a month off) and then come back very easily. I started working out with a rubber band, a lot of external rotations etc. I still do a lot of them.

Chins came back quite fast, allthough I avoided the wide grip versions. I have no problems with them now and after 2-3 months I was way stronger than I used to in this excercise. Deadlifts are no problem, except my left arm was weaker in the beginning so I worked with dumbells.
The only things I found troublesome was the bench. This was slower to come back. Dips and dumbell presses are fine.

I work my rotator cuff for 20 minutes 2-3 times a week, only with rubber bands but after one of theese sessions my shoulder feels excellent. Also, Qi Gong lubes the joints, and Scott Sonnons "Warrior Wellness" is worth buying.


How did you dislocate your shoulder in boxing? Were you able to return to boxing?

Russel Crowe actually dislocated his while filming Cinderella Man..


I had been training for about 3 years before it happened. I was the sparring partner for my provinces' champ and was deadly overworked.
I was born with 'loose' joints; so with repetitve trauma type activities such as boxing and certain other martial arts, a huge burden is placed on them because they simply can't handle too much work. Also, i had a very good right cross and hook. I was fast and strong. So if u can imagine a light-heavy boxer putting everything he had into a punch, with his joints already worn down and having to compensate while up against someone far superior to him; his shoulder could go at any time. My shoulder would popped out on punches before they could connect.
I tried to make a comeback more than once, but when competition loomed, it would always pop.
I imagine the same thing happened with Crowe. It is far, far more likely to occur if u are strong, like Crowe appears to be. Because your whole body is strong, but u have a weak link, and thats your shoulder. It happens more than people realize. 3 seperate people had injuries just like mine in my club all within 2years. Those that had surgery can never compete again and those that didn't are always going to have that tendancy to pop it out again during a match. Its most often career ending.


I dunno whether I have a dislocated left shoulder or shoulder impingement syndrome..

..thing is I hear a clicking sound and notice a "shifting" movement while doing overhead exercises.

I'm so stubborn I continue to do overhead presses, chin ups, etc..

My question is- for ppl with these kinda shoulder problems.. ..how is it possible for them to develop their lats and shoulders to "widen" their back and frame?

I don't mind NOT doing these exercises, as long as there are substitutes to work the back and delts sufficiently in order to achieve a perfect V-taper.

your thoughts? Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated!


I popped mine in a match too. I threw a left hook, and I was really tired too. Stability is always the first thing to go, it seems. I hit with all my might and with terrible technique and you could hear it pop all over the gym. It seems to me that a left hook is the most typical cause for dislocations, is that your experience too?

I haven't returned to boxing but I really want to. Thats why I'm interested in the experience of anyone who's been in a similair situation. I'm not interested in competing, only training.


Are your shoulders hunched forward? My chest used to be overly tight and my rotator cuff was weak, and some of my upper back muscles were underdeveloped. This took some months to correct but it "re-aligns" your shoulders and put them in a good position for these kinds of lifts. You should read Eric Cressey and Mike Robertsons and Ian Kings shoulder-articles on this page. Kings series is called "out of kilter", "heal that hunchback" by Mike Robertson is also excellent.

You are probably doing a lot more vertical pulling (chins) than horizontal (rows), so your lats are probably a lot stronger than your and rhomboids. Working on this wil probably help correct your problem (and also improve your pulling strength).


I dunno which muscle group is tight since I just started training and I am weak all over.

However, I have to admit that I do notice more mass in my pecs than in my upper back.

You are right my lats are more developed than my upper back as well.

I guess this puts my shoulders at a disadwantage and handicap when doing overhead stuff.

So basically, what should I concentrate on? Horizontal Rows and variations?

I really like to work vertical pulling and pushing since I feel it builds the back's width. Whereas rowing is more for thickness.

Should I continue to perform overhead exercises eventhough my shoulders aren't 100% fit?


I feel your pain man. I dislocated my right shoulder playing Rugby. The doc said there was a 90% chance of it happening again so i had surgery on it. That meant i was out of the gym for 6months and Rugby 9months. Feels just like new now though. Then i dislocated my left shoulder in a game. Again the doc pushed for surgery but i'm left handed and was in my final year of uni i didn't want it. Instead he gave me this thing called and Ultrasling which is basically a massive cushioned sling that keeps your arm at a specified angle. Had to wear that thing for 8weeks and got the funniest looks!!! Apparently its as good as an op but i'll wait and see. Training wise i can definately feel a difference in my left arm when benching etc.... Not gonna play rugby again which is a shame as well!!! Its totally up to you whether or not you go for the op. I live in England where we get it done for free so the extra expense might be a problem. Good luck bro with whatever you decide!! Shoulders Suck!!!


There is a new kind of treatment for loose ligaments and tendons called Prolotherapy.

It involves using a glucose(?) mixture that is injected into offending areas. The theory behind this procedure is that it uses the body's natural response of inflammation to heal and tighten injuries without the usual injury that causes it in the first place.

Unfortunately I do not know anyone who has had this procedure, so I can't really give you any second hand info. But from the sounds of it, it might be a perfect fit for you.

Check it out.


I would worry more about balancing your strentgth than about witdh/thickness issues. Without knowing your vertical/horizontal pulling ratio i would guess you need to put more effort in the latter. Also, if you are using more for your horizontal press than horizontal pull I'd definitly do more rows, barbell and dumbell.

Also, when doing your overhead lifts, try using dumbells and one arm at a time. You could also do side presses - where you tilt a bit to the side when pushing. This seems to be easier on the joints and it also builds stability.

In short: Do more rows and dumbell presses (not seated, I know people who have dislocated their shoulder doing this).


I subluxated my right shoulder 4 times over the course of a wrestling season my senior year. I did the standard stuff for it- rotator cuff strengthening, external/internal rotations. I found that I still had some pain on exercises like bench press, shoulderpress and chins. I finally went to a PT, and he showed my the main source of my pain- muscle imbalance.

I have the typical wrestler's posture, shoulders hunched forward, neck forward. He concentrated on working out my posterior rotator cuff muscles, my rhomboids, and my lower traps to pull my shoulderblades together and my shoulders back. This didn't remedy all my pain, but it did work wonders.

Thats my 2c. Good luck with the rehab, and expect it to take a long time.


For me it was my right cross. Being right-handed my right was obviously more powerful and unfortunately my undoing. My left is actually more 'loose', but my form was always perfect on the hook. But I imagine it was only a matter of time before it went too. But, the guys who hurt themselves in my club all hurt their left...so maybe I was just lucky.

Here's my 2cent: You certainly could go back to training. Since you've had at least one match, you know that training for competition is brutal. Training for a match and general training for health are totally opposite. So, dont train as if you are preping for a match. Just take it easy, focus on form at all times. Perhaps avoid the left hook and focus on combos from an in-tight position. Don't go to exhaustion! If you want, spare no more than 1 every 2 weeks. Sparring for a match gives you the tendancy to over compensate and u may have a tendancy to go beyond your limits. eg. being caught in a bad position and trying to over compensate.

See if u have loose joints and that 'hunch' over look. If u have that hunch, you should train your rear delts, back and traps like a fiend. This will eventually correct that. If u have loose joints....I dont know. I found that I couldn't work around it as far as boxing goes.

Thats fairly general...u should find a good trainer. They along with your knowledge of your limits, can make still make you pretty damn good.

Why don't u look into being a sparring partner? Pros and semi-pros are always looking for a good defensive sparring partner.


The thing is, is my shoulder problem due to an imbalance or some kinda injury?

I definitely here some clicking and popping going on when I do overhead stuff.

Could an imbalance in muscle development and strength between pulling/pushing actually cause such consequences (ie. slightly limited ROM during overhead work)?


I've dislocated my left 8 times, my right 4 times, so i'd class myself as a Pro at it. I'd suggest exercises such as the Turkish Get-up to anyone having probs, but starting ultra-light.
I took it up after the last dislocation when normal exercises didn't help, and it does feel noticeably stronger!!