T Nation

Rotator Cuff Finally Feeling Better


For the past 6 months I've been suffering from discomfort in the rear of my left shoulder. I realize that I probably had some instability in my rotator cuff from 15 years of heavy benching with almost no rotator work at all. I started doing some external rotation execises about 2 months ago, and widened my grip on the bench(my grip has always been narrow). Today I had the first bench routine with no pain, and I couldn't be happier. I'm still being cautious. I'm not going to start benching over 400lb again just yet.


Do you have access to a loose bench shirt? You might consider finding something that will give you little carryover but support your shoulders at the bottom. Might stave off further issues.


One thing to is to remember to retract your shoulders (scapular retraction; pull shoulder blades back), before you bench and keep them like that throughout the range of motion. I believe that is the most stable position and gives the rotator cuff tendons more room with less joint space narrowing.



i hurt my shoulder pressing about ummmm 4 weeks ago i'd say....

i can still squat, clean, snatch with no discomfort what so ever......however jerking becomes a problem when i get close to 300....my shoulder is just not ready to support heavy weights in the jerk yet....and even when i make the lift, theres just too much pain to make the training worthwhile....

as of right now im doing a 3 week phase with my rotators and shoulder...lots of reps in shoulder horn with 5 pounds, scap retraction pushups, and light lateral work

i have felt benfits already, especially with scap retract pushups...if you havent tried these you should....


I've had rotator problems in the past, but have been able to catch it early and fix it without surgery since we have an athletic trainer on staff at my command. He gave me some great moves which fixed me, and I now do as prevention/prehab.

All moves are done facedown on an adjustable bench, set to about a 45deg angle(give or take-not too low, not too high). Moves are done for 8 reps each, flowing directly into the next one after completing the reps for that move.

Y- either empty hands or with light weights(I've never used more than 8#), let arms hang straight toward floor, keep head neutral. Raise arms up until they are straight overhead, spread slightly out from straight up and down(thus the Y name). Pause for 1 sec, then lower back to start.

T- palms facing up, arms straight, raise arms straight out to sides until arms and body form a T. Pause 1 sec, then lower and repeat.

W- this one is hard to explain. Look in the mirror and hold your arms up so they form a W shape. Now, on the bench, start at the hang, then raise your arms directly into that position, try to hold for a second, then lower and repeat.

L- raise arms up tot he T position, but let forearms hang down from the elbow. Imagine a broomstick going from elbow to elbow across your shoulders, and keep the upper arms straight across. Rotate forearms up without moving upper arms, hold, then lower and repeat.

Like I said before, do 8 of the Ys, then go directly into the Ts, etc. until you have done all four moves for 8 reps each. That is one set, do 2-3 sets each time you do them, 2-3 times per week. I usually do internal and external rotations using the cable stack for 3 x 10, and then go to YTWLs.

Hope this helps.


Shoulder the Load
by Mike Robertson

Long Live Your Bench
by Ian King

Out of Kilter IV
Stop Shoulder Pain Cold!
by Ian King

8 Weeks to Monster Shoulders
by Alwyn Cosgrove and Chad Waterbury

The YWTL exercise is shown here.

Question of Strength
By Charles Poliquin

Cracking the Rotator Cuff Conundrum
by Eric Cressey

Heal that Hunchback!
by Mike Robertson, M.S., C.S.C.S., U.S.A.W.

 It's good to hear about someone diagnosing a rotator tear early, when it's still possible to cure it with rest and rehab. I've done that a couple of times, and it seems like six month is a typical healing time. (That's predicated on doing ZERO pressing movements during those six months, although light, high-rep extensions may be possible. ANY pain AT ALL tells you to STOP NOW, during the healing process!)

 One common problem is the usual assumption that rest and rehab will cure anything short of rigor mortis, if the rest lasts "long enough." In this case, it just ain't true. I wasted years and YEARS of training time, waiting for two full-thickness tears to heal.

(Note that a full-thickness tear may be a PARTIAL tear, not necessarily a full-width, COMPLETE tear. Mine were mis-diagnosed early in the process, long before MRI was commonly available.)

 What to do, if you THINK you have a rotator tear...? Step one: eat paper. Step two: drink green ink. Step three: shit the huge money required for an MRI. If the MRI has been read by two, independent, orthopedic surgeons who claim that surgery is the only cure, GO FOR THE SURGERY!

Chiropractic, ART, acupuncture, electrical stimulation, herbs and rehab exercise may cure every other problem known to God, but they won't cure this one.
Strength & courage,
"Coach Joe"


strange i had a rotator cuff injury after years of heavy lifting 2 or 3 times a week on bench, doing pyramids 2 days a week gettin up to 300... always used a wide grip... the bad thing about wide grip is your recruiting more shoulder muscle than chest so narrow is better in my case...


While wide puts more pressure on the shoulder joint itself, narrow also means you lower the bar towards the bottom of the ribcage, and this would recruit more shoulder muscles.