T Nation

Shoulder Mobility Help

I’ve been doing mostly Dips, CGBP, Skullcrushers and cable pushdowns for triceps. Yesterday I decided to change things up and try some french presses. Now I’ve had some tightness in my left shoulder when preforming OHP and DB presses, but I never noticed any mobility issues. I recently hung a mirror on the ceiling to check my bench press form (bar felt crooked).

While I was doing french presses, I noticed that my left arm could not go back far enough. I could not for the life of me keep bar level and straight. Right arm could go back way farther than left.

Has anybody else ever had a mobility issue in one shoulder? What can I do to fix this specific issue? Any help is appreciated !

Sounds like you’re doing too much of the following:

  1. Bilateral work. Do NOT listen to these idiots who live and die by the barbell. I have always maintained that there should be approximately 50/50 split between uni and bi lateral work. For many, I believe a 60 uni/40 bi or even more such as 70 uni/30 bi is appropriate.

Interestingly, there was a recent article by Henriques who stated the importance of including uni-lateral work. What many people do NOT know (or remember) is that this very same author wrote an article a year or two back called “Unilateral Lifts Make You Weak” or something along those lines.

Based on his most recent article, it’s clearly obvious he had a change of heart. Nothing wrong with that. However, what about those impressionable newbies who drank that kool-aid back then and are now paying the price…?

Rippetoe recently came out with an article in which he called any male who didn’t OHP a pu##y. Ask yourself this: what’s more important - your long-term health or whether or not you impress a buch of knuckleheads on a forum or at the gym?

The bottom line is: pay attention to the authors who write about lifts OTHER than the traditional barbell bench, DL, OHP, etc. These lifts can and do work for the right people at the right time. However, you must seek balance and keep things in perspective.

Put just as much passion into the uni-lateral lifts and you’ll be much better off.

  1. You have developed movement compensations from a combination of too much bi-lateral work AND too much pressing. The close-grip bench as well as the dips move the humeral head forward on the glenoid fossa (shoulder socket). Not only are you wearing out the labrum at that portion of the shoulder, you are definitely ensuring a kyphotic posture. No doubt the skull crushers (which, IMO, should be renamed elbow-exploders) are contributing as most people use a less than shoulder-width grip. The cable press downs also contribute to this inward “rounding” of the shoulders. All of this, over time, have resulted in the inability to properly retract and depress the shoulder blades.

You will need to address this by increasing work on scapular retractors and depressors. You will also need to increase mobility in the pec minor region with smr/static stretching (do these on off days or incorporate them into back days when you are doing rowing movements).

Thanks, for the reply. I was begining to think I wouldn’t get a response

[quote]56x11 wrote:
You will need to address this by increasing work on scapular retractors and depressors.[/quote]

Any vids on exercises/rehab for retractors and depressors? Also I noticed a snapping noise (again no pain) in my left shoulder. Not when working out, but with basic daily movements.

[quote]56x11 wrote:
You will also need to increase mobility in the pec minor region with smr/static stretching (do these on off days or incorporate them into back days when you are doing rowing movements).
[/quote]

Thanks, I will look up smr/static stretching. I definiately notice I have tight pecs, especially on left side, dumbell can’t touch shoulder but right is fine and can stretch deep when DB bench pressing.

[quote]Bmad wrote:
Thanks, for the reply. I was begining to think I wouldn’t get a response

[quote]56x11 wrote:
You will need to address this by increasing work on scapular retractors and depressors.[/quote]

Any vids on exercises/rehab for retractors and depressors? Also I noticed a snapping noise (again no pain) in my left shoulder. Not when working out, but with basic daily movements.

[quote]56x11 wrote:
You will also need to increase mobility in the pec minor region with smr/static stretching (do these on off days or incorporate them into back days when you are doing rowing movements).
[/quote]

Thanks, I will look up smr/static stretching. I definiately notice I have tight pecs, especially on left side, dumbell can’t touch shoulder but right is fine and can stretch deep when DB bench pressing.[/quote]

Do a search on this site for exercises. Lots of good info here. The muscles you want to target are: teres minor, infraspinatus, mid/lower traps, rhomboids. The subcapularis is important but less so in for most who suffer your symptoms (without seeing you in person, I CANNOT know for sure). The serratus anterior is also important.

The snapping sound is most likely due to the poor mobility in your left shoulder. The smr/static strech/strengthening of the retractors and depressors may help with this. It’s not a terrible idea to get it checked out by a good ortho.

The tight pec - on the left side - doesn’t surprise me at all. It’s amazing how the body compensates. Even if the barbell is moving at what appears to be in a perfect line, it does not guarantee the body is working in ideal synchronicity. This is what the barbell, barbell, barbell nazis don’t understand.

A good protocol (just one example):

  1. General warmup to elevate body temp, synovial fluid, etc.

  2. SMR using a softball, lacrosse ball, tennis ball, or something similar (experiment with different sizes and levels of hardness. A good (but not the only) method is to place the ball across the pec minor region and lean gently against a wall until you find a distinct ‘knot’. Hold that position for for 15-30 seconds, move the ball around a bit and hold another 15-30 seconds. Now perform a gentle static stretch on that area for about 30 seconds. These two steps will now down regulate the overactive pec region. Now perform the rotator cuff exercises focusing on the left side first (this is where you want to prioritize the trouble side). Now repeat on the right side. Do place a little more time and effort on the left but do not neglect the right side.

There should never be sharp stabbing or cutting type of pain when doing these.

  1. Now you can proceed to more loaded scap retractor depressor workouts. An example is the face pull. Be sure to isometrically contract the muscles for a second or two to really build the neural connection. It’s not a speed contest. And it’s not a how-much-can-ya-facepull contest. Another good one is the one-arm cable row. This is similar to a one-arm db row with the exception that you have the ability to make subtle changes in the force vector angle. Make sure those elbows are pointing at about 45 degrees or so (if your head is 12 o’clock, the elbow should be pointed towards 4 or 8 depending the side being worked). Keep twisting to a minimum and - in your case - there is absolutely no need to lower the hand so far that your shoulder gets out of the centered spot in the glendoid fossa.

Also, when doing a db bench or db incline bench press, get in the habit of retracting the scaps and pressing them down. This will center the humeral head in the glenoid fossa. Be really careful in the bottom and the very top of the movement as it can (as fatigue accumulates) move the humeral head forward. In fact, unless you’re a competitive powerlifter, there really isn’t much need to ‘lock-out’ at the top as it takes tension off your muscle AND it can promote the forward migration of the humeral head.

Keep OHP out for now. And keep in mind that as the angle of the press gets closer to vertical, keeping the scaps down can ACTUALLY cause impingement syndrome at the suprspinatus tendon. This has to do with the shoulder anatomy.

mobilitywod has some pretty interesting stuff. First page alone has 2 articles on shoulder mobility/health.

Thanks 56x11. Some of it over my head, but I get the gist and will get working on it.

[quote]56x11 wrote:
The snapping sound is most likely due to the poor mobility in your left shoulder. The smr/static strech/strengthening of the retractors and depressors may help with this. It’s not a terrible idea to get it checked out by a good ortho.

[/quote]

I did. Had an xray and showed no abnormalities. All they said was I had inflamation and gave me a script. I admit I was dissappointed. I went to see a PT for a couple of weeks. Exercises helped a little, but didn’t cure it. Though in my intitial visit with the PT girl said she wanted to “open up” my shoulder blade(deep massage?). Then my appointment got changed and I had a different guy who had a different approach.

Also, thanks bulkNcut, I’ll check it out!

One thing you might want to try is just hanging from a bar for like 30 seconds a couple times throughout the workout/day. Speaking from personal experience it’s helpful in fixing a shoulder impingement. It’s a pretty awesome stretch for all of the ligaments, muscles, and tendons surrounding your shoulder joints, along with many of the soft tissues that cross your shoulder joints but that travel a good distance away from your shoulders, like your biceps tendons, triceps tendons, latissimus dorsi tendons, and even the tendons of your front chest muscles.

When I started I could only stand to do it for like 10 seconds at a time, but as I continued to do it I felt much better and it got a lot easier pretty quickly. As it gets easier try moving your hands closer and closer until they are touching.

It’s also simple/easy enough there’s no downfall to trying it out, at least none I can think of.

This guy’s shoulder stuff is pretty good:

Stuff you can do during the day to work on it.