T Nation

Front Delt Messed Up From Dips


Hey, I looked in the other shoulder posts but I wasn’t able to find anyone with this particular issue. If you could respond with some info I would be very grateful.

Last friday I was in the gym doing some dips. I lean forward a bit doing them to balance out my body weight and everything seemed normal except at one point I began feeling a sharp pain in my left front deltoid and I stopped doing dips. I figured that was the end of dips for the day, I touched up on some bicep stuff and went home. I felt fine for a long time and then later that night the pain came back and it hasn’t given me a moment’s peace since.

It’s not high in my left delt, it’s lower down, just above the indentation between the delt and the bicep, but still on the front. It hurts the most when I carry trays at shoulder height (or above) with my left arm (I wait tables in a restaurant) so I have had to learn to carry trays with my right arm instead.

It feels like muscle strain but some have suggested that I tore my rotator cuff or caused a separation. I thought that was far-fetched because until this morning it was feeling better but now it aches and protests when I do almost anything with my left arm. I haven’t done any upper body working out since because I need to rest it, but I think I may have aggravated it at work. Has anyone else experienced what I’m talking about and did it just resolve with rest?

Did you ice it? Take anti-inflammatories? If it feels like a muscle tear, it probably is. Also, if it’s that low on your arm, it’s unlikely to be a rotator cuff issue. If it were me and it hurt worse than a pulled muscle after 5 days, I’d go see a doctor…

It could just be a strain. It doesn’t sound like a rotator cuff tear. The main symptom for that would be a lot of pain with abduction and overhead.

I’d stop doing anything that hurts, ice it 2-3 times a day, and take anti-inflammatories. If it doesn’t get better, get some ART done. If that doesn’t help, then I’d see a doctor.

Hey Mike, Shoulder injuries are fun. :slight_smile: That indentation you are referring to is created by the deltoid insertion on the humerus. The anterior portion of the delt flexes and medially rotates the arm. Which is what you would be doing during the up portion of your dip. As you went down and “adjusted” your position the rotator muscles were working to stabilize the joint and the rear portion of the delt was responsible for the extension and lateral rotation necessary to lower yourself down. (along with many other posterior scapular muscles)

With regards to the deltoid the muscle itself acts as agonist/antagonist. ant/post portion counter each other. It appears your position compromised the anterior portion and you placed excess strain on the tendinous portion to the anterior fibers. In a sense the posterior portion was turned"on" and the anterior turned “off”. You may also have some rotator issues that contributed to the injury.

Some muscles may be inhibited while othere are excited. The pain in your upper arm could simply be radiant pain as a “symptom” of another issue. From your post it seems as this just happened and is acute trauma (no history of ailment or other related condition) As reef said if not cleared in couple days have it checked out. Find a chiropractic sport physician. ART could help correct some imbalance and release some adhesions. The doc can check your infraspinatus and teres minor (both lateral/ext rotation muscles)

My guess is they are probably tender and “fired” up. As these are over excited the medial (internal) rotators ie. ant delt, subscapularis, teres major, pec major and lats are inhibited and/or restricted. We have more int rotators (and they are most worked in conventional workouts) and less ext rotators. So, the least numbered and smaller ext muscles need to work harder and remain hyper senstive.

If there are any internal musles dormant, there are enough of them to cover the work and get the job done. It’s easier to muscle your way through a set and workout. Not so for the external rotators. Any of those guys sleep on the job and you know it. So they are “fired” up ready for action. They light up like a christmas tree and the sparks are felt elsewhere. i.e front delt in the upper arm.

Thanks for the responses guys. I really appreciate it. I spoke with a doctor about it and he said that since there was no bruising I probably didn’t tear anything. He said I probably just pulled something as a result of overworking. I had started a very intense regimen of handstands the week before this ocurred and my shoulders were still kinda tired from that when I was doing the workout in question.

I’m thinking the reason it’s still not resolved in a week is because I aggravated it at work and didn’t rest properly. Now I’ve been serious about resting it and I hope it’ll start getting better now. Thanks for the information.

Good luck with the shoulder!

P.S. where are you from in Colorado