T Nation

Rotator Cuff Injury, Best Method to Recovery?


#1

Looking for some outside suggestions and advice on a possible rotator cuff strain I suffered. On Christmas almost three weeks ago I tried to do as many chin ups in a row that I could and agitated my rear left shoulder which became painful for the next few following days.

I didn’t notice any pain after the random attempt with the chin ups nor any excess strain when doing them. But the day after I woke up the part of my rotator cuff attached to the back of my clavicle had a dull ache, and I also noticed some sharper pain when moving it in certain positions.

The pain was never anything more then a 3 or 4 out of ten at the most. But I had some clicking and popping, and minor shoulder pains before. This was the first time a shoulder issue was unilateral and sensing pain and agitation when moving my left arm into certain planes of movement.

Since I had shoulder aches before I still didn’t think it was anything too serious and I took time off before Christmas because of a bad cold. I noticed after that day that the pain felt the same and wasn’t diminishing much so I took about four days off and the pain went away. After that I went to the gym and lifted lighter weights, dropped certain exercises that might aggravate the injury and cut my work outs shorter. Along with my volume, and frequency to keep healing and not make things worse. Instead of taking a complete break from lifting for a few weeks or more.

Its been three weeks now and I continued to just go the the gym less often, and lift lighter and not cutting any exercises that could cause any pain or discomfort. I haven’t noticed an increase in pain or discomfort from working out since the strain. Even though I didn’t take extended time off to allow it to heal.

I don’t know if I am doing the best thing if I did actually end up tearing something though. But what I am doing hasn’t caused more pain or discomfort either immediately or in the days after each work out. Some peoples opinions I read about say it would be smarter to take more time off (2-6 weeks) to prevent delaying the recovery of the injury. I don’t really feel because of the lack of worsening pain or discomfort that I would feel it was really necessary though.

My biggest concern is that I don’t want to have suffered a moderate tear and jump back into things too quick and end up tearing it worse. Or mess up how the scar tissue heals my shoulder and end up getting more permanent scar tissue because I jumped back into things too soon.
I noticed behind my left clavicle bone where I strained my shoulder that there is more separation and indentation of the muscle or tendon on that shoulder, compared to my other.

It also looks different when I move that shoulder into different directions and is pretty visibly noticeable and different then my other shoulder. My left clavicle is more prominent then my right side though so maybe it could have just been there for a while and I never noticed.

But if I tore my shoulder a few weeks ago bad enough to cause an indentation in my muscles from ripped apart tissue, wouldn’t it have caused more pain or discomfort? Or some kind of weakness or instability? The injury only hurt for three or four days, especially the sharper pain with certain movements.

And nothing has really caused it to be aggravated since it happened. Could you tear a muscle and such visibly noticeable changes like that without having more pain, weakness, or instability after? Something that would more affect my workouts or where working out around that muscle group would cause me to feel more pain and discomfort? Just curious about other people’s knowledge and experience on this.


#2

My Un-educated Best Guess.

You did a bunch of pull ups. The small muscles that support your shoulder (rotator cuff) got tired, and stronger muscles like your lat, bicep, maybe even Pec and front delt took over to keep things stable. Maybe your shoulder got a little inwardly rotated which pulled or strained the little 'cuff muscle in the back.

If the muscles up front are still tight, they could still be pulling your shoulder slightly forward/inward, keeping tension and strain on your 'cuff muscle.

So try poking around or massaging your left side. Under your arm, across your chest, in the front of your shoulder, in the upper part of your bicep. Look for tightness or knots. See if you can loosen anything up, to allow your shoulder to get “back” and “down” were its supposed to be.

Be careful with stretching when something is irritated. You don’t want to be pulling on an already pulled muscle.

Maybe ice? Do people still put ice on stuff that hurts.


#3

I will definitely try that, kind of like Active release therapy to loosen things up? I used Ice for the first five days. Nothing really hurts that bad anymore. I just don’t want to tear it worse, or if I did strain it bad I don’t want to prevent it from healing properly. The visual difference in my shoulders where the injury happened is also something I can’t figure out was from what I did or not either.


#4

Too long didn’t read lel. As always would recommend seeking professional help.

If you are confident in your own/this forum’s diagnoses and treatment skills have a read of these and use the power of google and YouTube to look up stuff you don’t know:

http://physioworks.com.au/injuries-conditions-1/rotator-cuff-injuries

https://www.shoulderdoc.co.uk/section/206


#5

Thanks that is helpful, I am planning on making a visit to my doctor but I don’t have much money to afford it. An diagnostic ultra sound to see if there is damage would be good to know. But until then based on my symptoms and not feeling more issues to the injury from my workouts so far. I just wonder if its the best idea and safe to work around the place where I hurt myself, since it hasn’t made it feel worse and got better relatively quickly.

The reason I am overthinking things more is because of the difference in my muscle separation and indentation where I had the pull. If that means I tore stuff up enough to cause that visual change I feel like it would be better to lay off and make sure I don’t make things worse. I don’t know if it could have been something that was there before from my clavicle being more prominent on the left and general asymmetry though. I only noticed the difference after I pulled it because I kept trying to check for inflammation.


#6

If you can do something without pain, weakness or instability then you’re probably all good. If you wanna be super safe fair enough just train legs everyday and get disproportionately huge and thicc.

Still haven’t read ur block of text but it may be worthwhile considering differential diagnoses especially for common shoulder injuries. A quick google and YouTube can find you some simple tests that you can perform yourself or with help from someone else.

e.g. Impingement, Instability, and AC Joint Injury


#7

That makes sense. I don’t want to be extremely cautious if it doesn’t feel like I am doing anything to make things worse. If I take off for extended periods of time every time I have an ache or pain I feel like I won’t ever grow much lol. Yeah, I have looked into a fitness chanel on YouTube called Athlean X which has helped me to do alternative exercises around injuries when they do happen, as well as awesome things for rehabilitation, flexibility, and mobility training. I also read a lot of Eric Cressey’s articles and suggestions from t-nation. This was all before I pulled whatever I did a few weeks ago too.