T Nation

Shoulder/Knee Pain, Overtraining & a Rant

So where to start?

I’ve been lifting for about 6 years and had chronic knee and shoulder pain nearly all of that time. Lifting stats for peaked at about a year in and have plummeted ever since; The only exercises I can do in relative comfort are back exercises (chins, rows etc.). Deadlifts are also reasonably comfortable. Any pressing hurts my shoulders, biceps and triceps isolation exercises sometimes hurt my shoulders and elbows and most leg exercises cause knee pain.

I had my right shoulder x-rayed 4 years ago and it was “normal”. A recent ultrasound scan showed nothing major, only that the tendons and muscles had enlarged so much that there wasn’t enough space left in the shoulder girdle for everything to move smoothly which is why I get impingement. The Doctor who scanned my shoulder said surgery would not help and I’ve been referred to a specialist sports therapy clinic at my local hospital (I think he meant to say Physiotherapist). I’ve been down this road before and it did pretty much nothing - infrequent appointments, a few stretches and painful “pain-free” exercises. So I’m not very optimistic. I also have another x-ray this Friday to see if anything has changed (although my GP suspects everything will be “normal”).

With regard to knee pain, I get it on the upper/outer portion of my knee cap when squatting, sitting for long periods with bent legs and walking up and down stairs. However, I’ll have to wait for treatment as my GP says they can only concentrate on fixing one joint at a time. I nearly imploded when she said this. Rant/ How illogical from a physiological perspective (logical from a financial one I suppose). I respect medical professionals, and I didn’t argue, but my Mum always complains about the Eastern European migrants that waltz into the hospital demanding she treat their drug related problems and HIV etc., and yet they can’t focus on more than one of my joints! /Rant

Doctors suggested that I’m overdoing it in the gym and not giving my body a chance to recover. I don’t think I am as I can’t lift much weight on most exercises and my workouts aren’t as intense as I want them to be. I could take so much more. I’ve been thinking about it while writing this post, and even though I don’t consider the weights I’m lifting to be impressive (hell, I was stronger 4-5 years ago), I could have exceeded my body’s ability to recover.

I’m thinking that a big cause of the lack of progress is psychological. At the moment I just feel mentally exhausted, demoralised and demotivated. I got into a good university in 2008 and during the latter half of the first year I got quite depressed and couldn’t concentrate on anything except going to the gym (workouts were rubbish as I was in pain). My results suffered and I didn’t tell anyone until the last few days of term. I didn’t return for the second year and got even more depressed. I got a depressing job in October 2009 which I left in September 2010 to go back to university. I left within a week and haven’t had another job since. The icing on the cake were haemorrhoids and bouts of IBS which lasted for months at a time. I’m pretty sure I’ve pinned this on wheat products, specifically pitta bread and shredded wheat, but that’s another story.

I’ve applied to university AGAIN this year and have received offers, but now I’m not really interested in my chosen courses. Also, the pressure is on to get a job in the interim, but my mind is all over the place and I can’t concentrate or make decisions. I’m trying to cut for the summer and have so far lost about 7-8 lbs (down to 192-193), my long term goal being to get to about 8% body fat. I was dealing with the shoulder and knee pain by foam rolling and stretching, but now I’ve developed a Pilonidal Sinus which has stopped most of my activities (I can’t even sit down comfortably so I can’t drive anywhere). I’m hoping that the antibiotics will clear it up so that I don’t need surgery.

Anyway, I’m going to wrap this up before it gets more depressing. I can’t even remember where I was going with this. I planned on asking for some advice about the chronic pain, but it turned out to be more of a rant. Perhaps I needed to let off some steam.

Where should I go from here? Would some time off be wise? Should I just do rows and chin-ups for a while? I’d be interested to hear about other peoples experiences as I’m sure I’m not the only one.


Believe it or not, I went to the chiropractor with those very same complaints and as it turns out I’m quad dominant which has caused an imbalance with the hamstrings and also the same with my chest and back.

The chest is so over trained that it has caused the shoulder to rotate ( I know that’s not the correct word I’m looking for) but its pulling on my shoulder in the wrong direction so he gave me a few exercises and told me to lay off the excessive quad and chest stuff and believe it or not my shoulder pain is so much better and the knee is getting there. I tried to run a little but that was very uncomfortable for me. I know people don’t believe in chiropractors but this is the only relief I’ve gotten in almost a year.

I’ve had some issues with chronic pain due to some injuries I’ve sustained. I found that even after I physically recovered, that I was mentally not in the game. It took me a year or so, but once I was able to set myself straight mentally that my chronic pain and problems training started to subside. The advice that I give to most people in these situations is to get your head right and everything else will start to follow suit.

Good luck and hope all starts to go well.

James, did you ever resolve your pain issues?

I have the exact same complaints - knee and shoulder. currently undergoing a 7 day lay off, think that would help? and when im back in the gym going to focus on rear delts and hamstrings.

I have the exact same complaints - knee and shoulder. currently undergoing a 7 day lay off, think that would help? then when im back planning to focus more on rear delts and hamstrings.