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Shoulder Pain, What Would You Do?

I’ve had shoulder pain for a year now due to an unknown problem.

I just got results from my MRI and the doctor said it was perfectly fine, he just suggested I stop weight training as it ‘may not be for me’.

Basically here is the deal: Both my shoulders are very weak and unflexible.

My right trapezius feels like an over-stretched elastic band,my right delt constantly burns like I just finished a 100 rep set of lateral raises. Additionally my right delt also feels quite bruised like it has just been worked. The overall area is very tight and hot.

My left delt is very unstable, it hunches forward whenever I pick something up heavy in that hand (think farmers walk), I also have a constant tingling around my left shoulder blade.

This contrast of feeling between both of my shoulders is very fucking uncomfortable, and has been for many months. What a fucking nightmare.

I was doing arms today, during tricep pushdown on cable pulley (perfect form) my delts were first to give out, it seems keeping my elbows close to my body and extending my arms was too much for them to handle. During the end of my workout I also found it very hard to do bicep curls, my shoulders just wouldn’t stabilize the movement.

So what would you guys do? I’ve took almost a year out of the gym, seen professional help, and I still am having constant problems.

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[quote]bushidobadboy wrote:
I would go and see someone who actually has a clue about the neuromusculoskeletal system.

Whatever you do, don’t go and see someone who says “It’s perfectly fine” when it quite clearly is not perfectly fine :wink:

BBB[/quote]

The things is, I have, i’ve seen multiple people. 1 Reflexologist, 2 Phyisotherapists, 1 Chiropractor, this doctor (who is now putting me on a list for a NHS physiotherapist).

Every single one has said that everything seems structurally fine. The only thing they have managed to do is point out that I have ‘lax joints’, which i’ve known since I was little.

I’ve been able to pin-point and detail my symptoms a lot better now since this has been going on for a year (listed in original post), yet no one seems to have a fucking clue.

Do I have some sort of shoulder condition no one knows about? FUck. Because your deltoids giving out before your biceps and triceps on curls/tricep pushdowns is pretty bad imo.

I don’t know if this will be helpful, but, every shoulder problem I have ever had has been caused by benching. When I have given the bench a rest and focused on overhead pressing, shoulder mobility and rotator cuff work, they always got better.

Also, make sure you do more pulling exercises than pressing exercises. Most people do the reverse, and it can lead to problems.

And here’s a remedy suggestion no doctor will ever throw at you- deca durabolin, injected into your shoulders. If you have any intention of rolling that way.

[quote]bushidobadboy wrote:
I would go and see someone who actually has a clue about the neuromusculoskeletal system.

Whatever you do, don’t go and see someone who says “It’s perfectly fine” when it quite clearly is not perfectly fine :wink:

BBB[/quote]

He weighs 150lbs at 5’7". It is quite possible that he is simply very uncoordinated…in which case, his doctor may actually be right. He most likely isn’t lifting abnormally heavy weights at 150lbs and if someone sees extreme pain and injuries when they aren’t at a level reaching “above average”, I tend to agree that this is NOT for everyone.

Well first off, I started weight training at 98lbs, 5’5" at age 17, and got up to 165lbs, 5’ 8" by my 19th birthday (shortly after my injuries occured), and I had no problems at all while going to the gym no less than 4x a week. I’m 20 next month btw.

I started noticing my problems around the time I got a little construction job, I used to haul sand-bags around on my shoulders quite a lot. I used to notice how sore my traps got, but there was no real ‘bad pain’. I also dropped Arm/shoulder training at the gym and did a lot more chest than I should of around that time.

My shoulders started feeling uncomfortable and tight (right in particular), so I have picked up this habit where I wiggle them around constantly in some desperate hope of ‘lodging them into place’ and finding comfort.

I guess over-time the constant wiggling along with my intial problem has created the symptoms I have today.

Since I trained for 2 years with no problems, I HIGHLY DOUBT THAT I AM SO PATHETIC THAT MY BODY BREAKS DOWN WHENEVER I DO WEIGHT TRAINING.

That being said I planned yesterday to just get onto a regular 5 day split and train my ass off like im fine.

However, the pain in the tricep pushdowns toward the end of my arm session today makes me doubt if I can do this without some very good advice.

[quote]deanosumo wrote:
And here’s a remedy suggestion no doctor will ever throw at you- deca durabolin, injected into your shoulders. If you have any intention of rolling that way.
[/quote]

I would strongly consider that however that option is not available to me. I have no means of obtaining quality steroids, or PCT. I also am very short on cash.

First I would recommend searching T-Nation for a few articles by Eric Cressey called shoulder savers part I II and III. Also until you get your shoulder stabilization problems under control I wouldn’t suggest doing any more bench pressing or pressing at all at least until you get your shoulders up to par. Shoulder pain sucks and most times if the MRI comes back with fairly good spacing in the sub acromial space and a relatively clean humeral head ( free of spurs etc) you are dealing with either an AC joint issue, mechanical impingement (most likely your problem) or tendonitis in one or several of the tendons in your shoulder.

Either way you may find that several weeks or possibly months of properly training your rotator cuff/ scapular stabilizers muscles you may be much improved and be able to resume training. One thing though to remember if your standard training got you into this situation then resuming it without continuing on with a more balanced workouts that include strengthening muscles that are important for function not just form. Definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.

Besides the great series recommended by Swolle I would also highly recommend Push-ups, Face Pulls, and Shrugs by Mike Robertson and Bill Hartman. If you follow their advice and Cressey’s advice in his series you will likely be well on your way.

[quote]Swolle wrote:
First I would recommend searching T-Nation for a few articles by Eric Cressey called shoulder savers part I II and III. Also until you get your shoulder stabilization problems under control I wouldn’t suggest doing any more bench pressing or pressing at all at least until you get your shoulders up to par. Shoulder pain sucks and most times if the MRI comes back with fairly good spacing in the sub acromial space and a relatively clean humeral head ( free of spurs etc) you are dealing with either an AC joint issue, mechanical impingement (most likely your problem) or tendonitis in one or several of the tendons in your shoulder.

Either way you may find that several weeks or possibly months of properly training your rotator cuff/ scapular stabilizers muscles you may be much improved and be able to resume training. One thing though to remember if your standard training got you into this situation then resuming it without continuing on with a more balanced workouts that include strengthening muscles that are important for function not just form. Definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.[/quote]

It does definitely feel like an impingement, i try to wiggle it around in hopes something pops free. The training I did when it happened was mostly TBT with an extra day to emphasise chest. I used to do 4-5 day splits with no problems.

I guess i’ll just drop chest day and add in rotator cuff work for a few months

If you have impingement I wouldn’t recommend doing the shrug portion of the Hartman and Robertson article.

Gray Cook has a very simple impingement test where you put your hand on the opposite shoulder and see how high you can raise your elbow. You can probably find it in his book Body In Balance or on his website functionalmovement.com.

[quote]mrodock wrote:
Gray Cook has a very simple impingement test where you put your hand on the opposite shoulder and see how high you can raise your elbow. You can probably find it in his book Body In Balance or on his website functionalmovement.com.[/quote]

This guy has seen several specialists and even had an MRI done and NOTHING was found. Don’t you think if it were a structural issue that it would have shown up on one of the SEVERAL tests with one of the SEVERAL specialists he has seen?

All signs do not point to an impingement at all. They point to poor form if anything.

[quote]deanosumo wrote:

And here’s a remedy suggestion no doctor will ever throw at you- deca durabolin, injected into your shoulders. If you have any intention of rolling that way.
[/quote]

He’s only a kid… suggesting Deca doesn’t seem all too wise.

Even if nothing shows up on any test, they don’t account for things like weak vs. tight antagonist relationships, cross-body syndromes, etc.

In reality, it could be uncoordinated movement…like was mentioned before in this thread. Most of the time, all it takes is some reading and learning more about your problem. Then you start to address it with different activation/coordination exercises. Keep hammering those for a long time (at least 1 year) and then reassess…

Everyone has been guilty at some point in time of neglecting nagging chromis pain that blows up into major problems. Just admit it, and start to educate yourself about what you need to do to fix it and don’t expect an overnight solution.

I had shoulder trouble, went to a doctor and nothing was found(turned out to be a chest/back muscle imbalance). MRI’s do not show strength imbalances. How much back work are you doing? Doing enough external rotation?

[quote]Professor X wrote:
mrodock wrote:
Gray Cook has a very simple impingement test where you put your hand on the opposite shoulder and see how high you can raise your elbow. You can probably find it in his book Body In Balance or on his website functionalmovement.com.

This guy has seen several specialists and even had an MRI done and NOTHING was found. Don’t you think if it were a structural issue that it would have shown up on one of the SEVERAL tests with one of the SEVERAL specialists he has seen?

All signs do not point to an impingement at all. They point to poor form if anything.[/quote]

All I can really say Professor X is that my experiences with musculoskeletal problems have not led me to have tremendous faith in specialists. I had one specialist that took a grand total of 5 minutes to give me his evaluation. I waited 2 months for 5 minutes of bullshit testing. He quickly told me there was NOTHING he could do for me, he treated me as though I was malingering. I went through Gray Cook’s screening and quickly found that I was terrible at overhead squat form, I figured out a couple other things from this site and resolved my back problems that had stuck around for 6 years completely (took 3 months). I’m 27 by the way.

So I do not doubt that you are right that he has already been screened for impingement; my own experiences make me perhaps overly skeptical about his treatment up until now. By the way, I do realize not all medical professionals are made of the same cloth as the ones I have seen.

The shoulder is a really complex joint, and although the diagnostic tests all “look normal” it does not mean everything is normal. Also, the current field of medicine doesn’t know everything - Every patient is different, and the medical opinion of today is not necessarily the medical opinion of tomorrow.

I have had shoulder issues since adolescence - Both of my shoulders used to have a partial posterior dislocation on the slightest medial pressure (Think arm wrestling or doing dumbbell flies, only 10lbs would pop them out). I’ve had 2 MRIs, a dozen x-rays, and about as many consultations - The consensus is “I don’t know” or “weak surrounding musculature”

The physical therapy I was on was high rep internal and external rotations, front/lateral/posterior raises, and a bunch of shoulder stabilizing work. [Total time: 1 year. Total benefit: zilch] This really put me off of lifting for several years, as my shoulders really held back my ability to lift weights, and it looked like it would never get better despite following the expert’s advice.

In addition to my shoulders, I also have 2 herniated disks from being stupid (playing neighborhood tackle football with no gear, and lifting things like a tard). From these injuries, I had constant back pain - 5hrs of standing up left me hunched over and I wouldn’t be able to straighten out again.

At this point, my doctors all told me to pop some pills for life or get surgery. Considering surgery for either of my problems was not guaranteed to help, I decided to drastically alter plan of action. I decided to come up with my own therapy plan. I read up on the shoulder joint, the spine, and other people’s stories on how they went about fixing their pain. After a bit of research, I had an understanding of the structure and pathology of my problems, but no clear cut way of solving them. It was time to get to work.

I went to the gym and focused on 100% proper technique while maintaining a pain-free workout; however, I did not stick with the 15+ rep regimen the physical therapists laid out. I switched from a high rep to a low/mid rep range and just did whatever weight I could do without causing pain or dislocations.

At first, the weights I was using were pathetic - lateral raises with a 5lb dumbbell, lat pulldowns with 100lbs, etc. If I felt a hint of pathological pain I stopped the exercise I was doing and gave it a rest. And at this point, my back was still way too stiff and painful to do squats or deadlifts, but a year later, I added them as well.

By trying something that my doctors thought was crazy, I was able to completely heal my back - I haven’t had back pain in 7-8 months. My left shoulder does not dislocate at all, although I do have pain with some movements (And I know enough not to increase the weight through this sort of pain). My right shoulder still dislocates if I raise it over my head or apply medial pressure. If I stabilize it properly, I feel no pain and I can do other lifts quite well. [A strange note is my right arm/shoulder is stronger than my left, even though my right shoulder still dislocates]

After 2 years of trying this approach, including 1 year of organized training(Thanks T-Nation), my current lifts are:

Deadlift - 325 lbs
Back Squat - 295
Front Squat - 245
Bench - 215 (Stresses my shoulders more than any other major lift)
Military press - 175
Chins - BW + 30 (230)
Dips - BW + 70 (270)
Row - 190

My internal/external rotation with the cable pulley increased from 10/5 lbs to 60/40 with no dislocations or pain. (Rep range 8-10)

Physical Stats: 23 years old, 5’9", 200 lbs (I still have quite a bit to go physique wise) The numbers listed are for singles and doubles, but I do not do all-out 1RM work because I do not want to risk my form breaking down.

I realize I still have some muscle imbalances, but I am working to correct these issues. Every day I walk into the gym, I remind myself of the injuries I have and always ensure my form is as close to perfect as possible.

If you have an injury, I would always go with the doctors’ opinions first, and if they tell you that you’re screwed, you need to research it on your own, and try reasonable approaches that address the problem without causing pain. The key to the do-it-yourself approach is you need to have a good connection with (and understanding of) your body, you need to understand the limits your injuries put on you in the weight room, and the consequences of doing further damage if you are not careful.

-NoXX

What’s your workout look like? Kinda pointless to try and figure out what’s wrong with your shoulders without any info. If your shoulders never hurt while doing that construction job, I doubt it has anything to do with that now(unless you still do that kinda work).

Was there ever any specific trama to the shoulder besides the construction work?

[quote]tw0scoops2 wrote:
What’s your workout look like? Kinda pointless to try and figure out what’s wrong with your shoulders without any info. If your shoulders never hurt while doing that construction job, I doubt it has anything to do with that now(unless you still do that kinda work).

Was there ever any specific trama to the shoulder besides the construction work?[/quote]

no, no other trauma to the shoulder that could of caused it, problems came around right at that time.

The only other variables I could think of that could of affected it are:

  • I was doing loads of handwriting due to college (hunched over a desk etc.)
  • I did TBT with an extra day to emphasize chest.

Another thing I believe has made my shoulders worse is that I have an awful habit now of constantly wiggling them around due to them being uncomfortable. I’m trying to stop doing that…

Like I said I have JUST started training again, I took a complete 6 month break and nothing really changed.

I did loads of behind the neck band pull aparts & exteral band rotations for a while, and they didn’t really change anything.

I just got back from leg day today. After squats & romanian deadlifts my shoulders felt amazing for a little while, after squats I just hanged from the bar and stretched out (felt awesome). However, I made them uncomfortable again while doing russian twists with a medicine ball =/