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Rotator Cuff Causing Impingement


Hi all,

My shoulders (both right and left) click during various movements. If I move my right arm as if I am doing a dumbbell lateral raise, it clicks pretty hard. In other cases, when I am doing bench press my left shoulder clicks. I recently went to a shoulder orthopedic specialist and he said that since my rotator cuff is hypertrophied (from weightlifting, I suppose) it is now causing the bursa there to impinge more against the acromion (something along those lines). He said, however, not to worry about it too much, and to not increase your frequency of weightlifting. He also said to avoid overhead movements as that is what tends to aggravate the condition. He also said I risk bursitis/tendonitis if I continue, but I avoid the majority of movements that make my shoulders click during weightlifting, namely the lateral raise.

Does this happen to other weightlifters/bodybuilders? I wouldn't consider myself even that built yet as I've only been weightlifting for 7 months...

Is there any way to reduce this condition besides stopping weightlifting? I asked the doc this and he said there wasn't ...

Thanks in advance,



How did the orthopedic physician determine your rotator cuff was hypertrophied? Did he evaluate your scapular positioning and scapulo-humeral rhythm?

I'd lean more towards a scapular positioning/stabilization issue or a shoulder/thoracic mobility issue than an over-hypertrophic rotator cuff.


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@LevelHeaded What he did was move my arms in certain motions for roughly 30 seconds, and then decided that what I described above was my issue. He didn't tell me what he was looking for when he was moving my arms around, so I don't know if he evaluated my scapular positioning and/or scapulo-humeral rhythm. I'm guessing that he probably didn't since it was so short? Personally I think its bullshit, for one because I never do rotator cuff exercises, two I don't see how every other person who lifts weights wouldn't then have this problem since I don't have any structural issues, and three his examination was really short.

In the past my experiences with orthopedic physician's have been pretty bad. I used to be on a college sports team and the physical therapist there could figure out my injury spot on. Are there any other people to recommend besides orthopedic physicians to see for 'injuries' like this. I should mention that when it clicks, it doesn't actually cause pain, but I'm sure something isn't right so I'd like to get this checked out before it can get worse.


It doesn't sound like he checked for any scapular positioning/scapulo-humeral rhythm which I think is a big piece of the puzzle. Obviously I don't know who your doctor is as I don't know you or the doctor's name and I am in no way trying to discredit your doctor's intelligence or medical capabilities.

(Brief step up onto soap box) I think this is an example of how the insurance companies and corporate aspect of orthopedic clinics push for doctors to see more and more patients in a short time span, so they don't have the time to do as thorough of an evaluation that they should do (step off the soap box).

Without doing a physical eval, here are some general things that could be going on:
-Structurally you may have a hooked acromion that may cause an decrease is space and increased change of impingement.
-There may be some capsular tightness causing GH shifting
-Poor thoracic mobility
-Poor scapular positioning and scapulo-humeral rhythm.
-Tight anterior muscles (pec major, pec minor, subclavious, etc)
-Weak posterior muscles (rhomboids, lower trap, middle trap, etc)

GENERALLY, if the clicking doesn't cause pain it is not a major cause for concern, but does show that you probably have some mobility restrictions that could be addressed. Other people you can look into are to try and find a more thorough sports medicine orthopedic physician (do some research before going to see one), find an athletic trainer or physical therapist who works with a lot of athletes (again, research), or a functional movement specialist (could be an AT, PT, strength/performance coach, or other professional). Z-Health has a very thorough movement screening process so if you can find one of their practitioners in your area, that would be a good option as well.