T Nation

One Arm Higher Than Other. Imbalance Present on All Lifts

Hi all. To start -I apologize for the length of this, but I am an advanced lifter, with a complex program and no doctor/physio/chiro has been able to

Ok, you’ve given lots of good info and visuals.

You mentioned trying to strengthen the serratus and mid/lower trap. What did you do? Did you think it worked? Did you get stronger or more “connected” to those muscles?

3 years ago, did you play physical sports with your arms over your head? Or have a few beers and get into a wrestling match with a drunk buddy or something dumb? Ever spend any time on crutches?

I’ve got no citiations of references for this, right now. But;

Somewhere in your neck/shoulder/arm pit is your “Long Thoracic Nerve.” This connects your brain to your lat/serratus/low trap (gross over simplification). If you damage this “Structure,” it’s like hitting your funny bone. You lose control of those muscles. I don’t know exactly what happens, but lat/serratus/trap just stop working. As a result other muscles (front Delt/teres group/infraspinitus/supraspinitus) try to do the job of supporting your shoulder. They don’t do it very well, so your right shoulder is in the wrong position. Little muscles get overworked, pulled on and develop tendonitis. You compensate by adjusting your forearm angle, and the elbow has problems. Stuff moves crooked.

X Rays and ultrasounds show no damage because no muscles are torn or injured. Soft tissue work and stretching feel OK, but then you lift weights and inflame the sore tissues again. It’s very frustrating.

If your shoulder isn’t in the right position, all lifts are just practicing bad mechanics.

Can you feel the sensation of using your rotators to “pull the humerus head back and down”? Can you feel this motion rotating your humerus and changing the position of your elbow? Can you use the rotators to lower your shoulder?

Maybe you “forgot” how to use some muscle?

I used many of the moves/motions you mentioned, but I didn’t know how to “twist” those rotators to control my elbow and forearm. As a result all my Y’s and wall slides and pull Aparts were done with a slightly bent winged out elbow, a crooked wrist and a slightly internally rotated shoulder.

This move with this handle finally made it Click for me.

When I set up, my right elbow was slightly bent and kinda flared out to the side. It wasn’t straight enough to really “shrug down.” By really focusing on straightening my arm/elbow I became aware of how my right arm and shoulder were internally rotated and higher than the left, causing my elbow to stick out to the side.

To get my arm straight, I had to learn to “twist” my shoulder into the right spot, to get my elbow lined up. This move was easy enough and light enough that I could figure it out.

I also did lots of light dumbbell bench presses. Like 4 sets of 25 with 15 pound dumbbells. About halfway through, I’d start to get tired and notice that my right wrist was kinda cocked funny, because my elbow was sticking out to the side and my forearm wasn’t vertical. From there, I could use the same “twisting” of the shoulder muscles to tighten down and get my elbow in the right alignment.

This is another move that really worked well for me. This guy is going too fast and too sloppy. But with the chest support and 2 hands on the handle, I was able to “feel” that my right arm was not doing what it needed to do. And then figure out how to “twist” my shoulder down with the rotators so I could actually use the lat and lower trap.

I know you’ve probably done 1 million reps of B.S. just like this, but for me it was Crucial to have both hands on the same bar at the same time to figure out the “twisting” into eachother motion.

No problem man. This was a problem for me for a long time.

Here’s another crappy video of the cue "rotate your elbows into your body for upper back tightness."

This could be another way to visualise and connect. Maybe you would be double overhand, maybe doing rows or shrugs, but the elbow rotation would be similar.

Another cool video
About 2:45 he mentions twisting and cranking. Maybe nothing, but maybe useful.