T Nation

Pain Doing Weighted Dips

I have recently re-introduced low rep weighted dips to my full body workout routine. Last week things were fine, I kept adding plates and it felt great to be doing them again.

Today however, after I had performed my bodyweight warmup, I began adding plates and I felt a pain in the rear of my shoulders, around my rear delt/rotator cuff at the end of the lowering phase of the movement.

The pain wasn’t a real sharp pain like I had torn something, more of a deep aching feeling like something had been over-extended or compressed. I was able to continue my sets but had to lower the weight a bit and focus on lowering myself slowly.

I know it’s hard for anybody to say by simply reading my post, but what do you think happened here? Maybe I aggravated something by lowering my body too quickly and coming to a sudden halt, or perhaps I was trying to go too close to parallel. Perhaps my elbows were tucked too close to my body?

What possible solutions might there be in terms of prevention? Some rotator cuff exercises and stretches maybe?

Dips don’t seem to work for me either, weighted or not weighted.
The “upper body squat” my ass. I’ve had both shoulder and pec issues from it.

That’s why I love chins/pull ups so much. It’s probably the safest exercie (as long as you avoid behind-the-neck pull ups) and you can hardly fuck yourself up.

Now to help you out:
I did exactly the same mistake as you did- I continued the exercise after I felt a “certain aching”. In the future, I will only do Dips when I’m fresh and with perfect form. I’d stay away from this exercise when I’m pre-exhausted. Also, I’d definitely do lower reps and go not as deep as before.

Hand position is crucial. Too wide or too close and it’s bad. I agree with most sources that shoulder-wide is optimal.

On a sidenote: Bas Rutten swears on this exercise. But I believe he doesn’t do them weighted.

[quote]Brickwalker wrote:
I know it’s hard for anybody to say by simply reading my post, but what do you think happened here? [/quote]

Sounds like impingement syndrome. This is where the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) compresses soft tissue into the acromion (a “finger” of bone extending over the top of the shoulder from the shoulder blade). The tissues compressed include parts of the 4 rotator cuff muscles.

I can assume all that weight on your arms compressed the tissue into your acromion.

To test for this, try doing an O’Brien’s test on yourself. Stand in a doorway with your arm straight forward with the thumb pointed down. Then push the inside of your wrist (now facing out) against the doorframe. If this reproduces your pain, it may be impingement syndrome.

If you sleep on your side, stop. Sleep on your back or belly. If you have to sleep on your side, move the head of your bed away from the wall, so there is about 6 inches from the bed to the wall. Then sleep on your side, with your arm hanging in the gap.

Cut your overhead weight training to a minimum and do only overhead dumbbell military press with a neutral grip (like hammer curls).

I used to have a few bouts of this, but I improved when I started doing deadlifts. I’m not sure, but it may have relieved it by opening the gap a bit.

Ibuprofen or naproxen may help, but those may interfere with muscle building. Avoiding the aggravating activity is key. I frequently give corticosteroid injections for this with excellent results.

If it were me, I’d give it some rest for a couple weeks, sleep right and see what happens. If no improvement, get it checked out professionally.

Hope it works out.

Thanks for the great responses!

I tried the O’Brien’s test that you suggested and didn’t feel any pain at all, which is a relief.

I used to feel pain in that area a while ago when benching and sometimes when doing side lateral raises (I don’t often do these any more!) I used to get more of a burning feeling… like muscle fatigue. I guess my form was wrong and I was recruiting too much rear delt.

I have since started doing some rotator cuff strengthening exercises with dumbbells and this seems to have helped greatly with the above mentioned problem.

I have always thought that sleeping on your side (which I do) wouldn’t be too good on your shoulders with your bodyweight compressing them for extended periods of time. I think I’ll try to sleep on my back too.