T Nation

Left Shoulder Issue


Long time forum reader, first time poster. 40 year old male and just started lifting again after many years absence from training(9 months in atm). Started a business and and family that really took up some time.
I realize that I should probably see a doctor about this and that online diagnosing would be guessing at best. Although in my small business my personal time to make appointments for such things disappear at break neck speed. So I figured I would throw it out there and see what bounces back.

The issue began about 4 months ago either during a bench session or dip session. All the sudden I have a pain in my left shoulder, near the end almost where the collar bone meets the shoulder. this pain is not there all the time. Sometimes I feel it while benching, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes it shoots into my neck and ends at the bottom of my skull. I almost all ways feel it when I lift my left arm to put my hand on the steering wheel when driving. I also feel it when I hold onto a doorway to stretch. I certainly can not sleep on my stomach with my left arm at my side. Ever since the initial issue I have just kind of dealt with it and worked around it.

Now I have started a new shoulder complex that begins with the seated muscle snatch. During the last 20 degrees of the movement all I can feel is poping and crunching in my left shoulder(slight pain). I can still work through it, although it certainly doesn’t feel right and I believe it would impede my gains moving forward.

Also my pinky and ring finger on my left hand tend to go numb during benching. I think this may be a separate issue as the research I have done tends to point to a pinched nerve. I have changed my benching grip but to no avail they still go numb.

I guess what I am looking for is to see if this sounds familiar in any way to something that someone else has experienced. Or maybe I should just suck it up, quit my bitching and see a Dr.

Thanks for your time.


Bone spurs maybe the hand thing sounds like a nerve issue just throwing out some guesses I’d go see a doctor.


Really this can be a number of things. Impossible to say and you really need to get checked if these things dont go away. Some things to try;

Does it still crunch and pop if you sink your shoulders down and back and keep them that way while pressing?

Sounds like a trapped nerve, do you get any pain in your back/shoulder blade area? Anyway give lacrosse balling your trap a shot for 5 minutes every day. Place the ball on the top of your trap and using a doorway, bend over and pin it between your trap and the wall. Roll around finding the knots.

Pain in shoulder/collarbone. This could be your biceps tendon. Poke and prod around your bicep, press your thumb in a spot and do a few curls, then find a new spot. Any areas that hurt as you press in and curl?


Thank you for the responses, I actually appreciate it.

Just did chest yesterday, I usually trap my shoulder blades back before I start my sets. The only time I felt pain was when reracking the bar. I feel the most poping and crunching when performing overhead movements.

Starting with my left arm at my side, hand in normal position. If I raise my arm up to the side(not out in front) all the way above my head during the last 10 degrees or so I will feel a crunch. Bringing the arm back down to my side, slightly after perpendicular(maybe 70-80 degrees) I will feel a pop. I just tested raising my arm out in front as well. Basically the same feeling at the same degrees of rotation.

Actually yes, not bad though. I would say it’s on the top of my left shoulder blade.

Tested this, did not feel anything out of the ordinary.

Going to try that lacrosse balling today.

Thanks again.


I am almost certain this is an acromioclavicular joint (ACJ) issue. Does the end of your collar bone feel tender where it meet your scapula i.e shoulder? Does your collar bone poke up a little higher than the other side?


When the issue started, yes. The spot at the end of my collar bone was very tender(4 months ago), now that tenderness to the touch is gone. Although I still get pain through the area. And the poping and crunching are still present. I have not checked to see if the collar bone is higher on one side than it is on the other. If the collar bone is higher on one side than the other, than I would have to think some degree of separation has occurred.

I did try the lacrosse balling John_Henry suggested yesterday, except I only had a tennis ball here at the office. I will admit after 5-7 min my left shoulder felt a bit better. I am going to do it every day for the rest of the week and see what happens.

Thanks again for the replies, I appreciate it.


Glad the shoulder SMR helped some. If you have a dicks sporting goods near by they sell them for $2 odd.
Hard to say what it is, so much can happen in that joint. Where the collar bone sits, it can grind on a rotator cuff muscle and also the biceps tendon goes through there and can get aggravated too. Most of the time during rotator cuff surgery they will actually shave the collarbone down to make more space there, almost a design flaw.
Popping could be the cuff having issues, labral tear or just scar tissue. Make sure you don’t lift your shoulders up as your overhead press, keep your shoulder down, push them away from the ear, this will keep that joint open.
Have you tried the empty can test? have someone lightly press and see if you have pain.

IMO I’d see a doc and if he suggests a scan, get one. If it is a tear in the cuff or labrum, the sooner its fixed the better.Hope it gets to feeling better!


I have tried this test, did not feel any pain or weakness during it.

I did notice that while doing the lacrosse balling that I can get my left pinky and ring finger to go numb. So I must be hitting a bundle of nerves going through that area.

Thanks once again.


Can test; that’s a good sign!!

Play with the lacrosse ball, find a tender spot and turn your head back and forth or swing your arm forward/back/ to the side. Try and get the muscle moving while the ball is pressing. Hope it starts to loosen up and help! if not and they are still going numb it would best to see a professional, may send you for a nerve test or to a physical therapist.


Hey man, I hope your’e recovering from your injury smoothly.
I have had a recurring injury in my right shoulder after experimenting with some olympic lifting.
Since I have had lower back injuries in the past I didnt want this to escalate into something irreversible, so I went to research the issue immediately.

I discovered that I had something called upper cross syndrome which a large chunk of the population has.
Our modern lifestyles favor us to use the front of our bodies when driving, sitting, writing, typing, etc. This leads to the weakening of the back and rotator cuff muscles, and tightness in the muscles at the front of the body. When this happens, the shoulder is pulled out of its axis of rotation and leads to inflammation in tendons/ligaments when we go through a specific range of motion.

The way I solved my issue is by focusing A LOT on my upper back strength. I did various movements like band face pulls, band pull aparts, inverted rows, chest supported rows, etc.
I also focused on improving my posture and mobility especially in the thoracic region (the area where your ribs are). I did things like wall slides, shoulder dislocations, scapular circles, egyptians, etc.

Finally, I avoided any heavy overhead and horizontal pressing until the issue improved

Im just stating how I recovered from my injury. Feel free to try out what I stated above, but it would be very helpful to get a diagnosis as to what is going on with your shoulder exactly.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Get well soon!


Thanks for the reply.

I have started focusing a lot of effort on my upper back. Face pulls, inverted rows(close grip/wide grip), band pull aparts and chest supported flys. I have noticed a tremendous difference in my posture(shoulders no longer slouching forward). The pain in my left shoulder still remains though. I am convinced it is a AC ligament issue. As soon as I can get some stable employees I plan on making the Dr appointment to have it checked out.



Good luck, and get well soon.
Also check out Kelly Starret’s Mobility WOD YouTube channel if you haven’t yet done so.
I have seen many videos on there for stretches and mobility drills that minimize shoulder pain.


Good luck!
also keep your shoulders down, never raise them up on an exercise