T Nation

Maintaining Muscle Mass While Shoulder is Injured

I’m 24, 5’9", 170 lbs, and I’ve been weight training for mass gain for over a year. Three weeks ago I read the ‘demolish your bench plateau’ article. I tried the close grip bench press for the first time, and made the decision to go super heavy right away. I think I held the bar too close. I knew something was wrong as it hurt a bit, but not too much. I made the mistake of skiing for two days the week after that. I think that really made it worse.

I had movement and the pain wasn’t bad. But I’d get a sudden moderate pain when doing simple things such as lifting my back pack or picking up heavier grocery bags. I noticed the pain would occur when my shoulder and arm were ‘inside’, facing forward and towards the chest, moving out.

I stayed off of any chest, back, or arm exercises up to now. I have not been to any expert, doctor or otherwise, yet. I did read up on the shoulder muscles, like the four rotator cuff muscles and the deltoid. I will still go to an expert soon (please don’t flame me just yet).

My question is, if the pain has more or less gone away (still creeps in when I attempted a relatively lower weight of 135lbs on the bench press, compared to 185lbs x5 reps with flawless technique), then what sort of exercises can I do to minimize muscle loss, if not maintain it.

I’ve gained 8 lbs of something, probably mostly fat, though I have been working my legs a lot more and they’ve definitely have gotten stronger than before.

But this has been really bugging me as I don’t want that flat chest look that guys with serious shoulder injuries end up with after a lack of any upper body exercises.

Lately I’ve been doing some rotator cuff exercises where you stand and bring the arms from the inside to the middle, and then the middle to the side with very light weights (5 lbs). I’ve also been doing moderately light seated close grip rows (65 to 95 lbs for 10 to 15 reps). I’ve also been stretching my chest a lot. I’ve noticed a better posture, but i’m hoping someone has any advice in regards to what sort of exercises I can do to keep the chest muscle loss to a minimum. Light weight flyes at a limited range of motion? Angled against the wall push ups?


This sounds very strangely like what happened with me. 3 weeks into a bench program, did the movement but felt off and now small things cause discomfort, warm up weight aggravating it, etc…same type of pain really.

Although my issue wasn’t caused by just going heavy right away. Here’s the thread I started about it: http://tnation.tmuscle.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding/shoulderrotator_cuff_pain got some helpful info there.

  1. Drop the flat bench until you get sorted out.
  2. Broomstick stretches. Look it up.
  3. Can you do incline without pain?
  4. Do DB’s if they don’t hurt.
  5. Wide grip dips.
  6. If you can do ANY of 3-5, I doubt you will lose any mass.
  7. I doubt you are in danger of becoming disproportionate anytime soon.