T Nation

Rotator Cuff Problems


Anyone out there know solutions for rotator cuff pain? I have been benching heavy for over fifteen years and now it's virtually impossible for me to perform flat bench. There's a lot pain, and popping/cracking sounds coming from this injured shoulder. I think one of the problems lies with the subscapularis muscle, because sometimes it will twitch involuntarily.


Ummm...have you gone to the doctor yet? If not, you ought.


I agree with the guy above. Go see an orthopedic doctor to rule out major problems that might require surgery. If surgery is recommended, get a second and third opinion. If nothing structural is wrong, go see a physical therapist for a program to stabilize your shoulder. Shoot, while your there bring a copy of Eric Cressey's Cracking the Rotator Cuff Cunundrum available through this site and see if the thereapist thinks you could work through that program on your own. Or get him to tell you which ones to use from Eric's article on your own.

Shoulder problems are not always RC problems. If you've got a lot of popping and stuff going on you might have instablity problems or torn labrum. You want to rule those out first. Make sure that you see the best specialists that you can, even if you have to drive a ways. Good luck.


The subscap twitching could be caused by a number of things; an offhand guess would be impingement of the nerve(s) innervating it.

How often do you stretch your internal rotators and work your external rotators? I don't mean balancing pushes and pulls - that won't keep your shoulders healthy. I mean specific external rotator stuff, like using a shoulder horn. Weak rhomboids are also usually a culprit.

Ever do overhead pressing? Does that bother your shoulders?

I agree with getting it checked out to see if anything's torn as well; after 15 years, there's also bound to be some adhesions going on. Take a look at soft tissue management techniques like ART in your area, a good practitioner can help immensely.

Have a good one,



Benching heavy for 15 years will do that to a guy. I agree, lay off it for now and go get the shit checked out.


You probably have some significant imbalances. I would suggest this for starters.


Remember that it is not about weight moved, but targeting the muscles.

Start out very light, stay light for a while, just basically going through the motions, then slowly progress up. Stay in the higher rep ranges.

I have used this very successfully and cycle it in and out all year, particularly in the weeks before starting a meet cycle. It helps alot.

Also, do a search for the "Lazy Man's Guide to Stretching." It is pretty thorough and the stretches are easy to do correctly.

Placing some emphasis on rear delt work and upper back would probably be beneficial, as well.

You might want to consider lowering the total volume of pressing movements for a while, as well, and having a bias towards pulling. 6-8 weeks while you progress through the shoulder routine.

Good luck.


Get it checked out for sure. Eric Cressey has some good posts on here regarding the subject. I also think there is a great article at Elite Fitness on it. Also no more chest until cleared. When I was rehabing mine I started with rear delt isometrics with light weight and horizontal rowing with tons of rotator work....including a ton of stretching the area, my chest, my lats etc. Just getting the inflammation down so I could start some sort of training was a bear.

The stretching and isos made it possible for me to start more rep work and then move into heavier work and then compound lifts afterwards. This was not an overnight transformation...it took weeks. I still do rotator work and stretching every time i do chest, shoulders or even back training. It made all the difference in the world. I was severely out of wack and you must correct the strength imbalance after doctor diagnosis before going heavy again. Just my thoughts. Heavy is possible again!