T Nation

Shoulders and the Aging Lifter

I figured this is a great place for this question/topic since many of us have been lifting for a long time. I started lifting when I was 18 and I am 49 now. I blew out my back and eventually had surgery so there was a few years break, but other than that I have been a pretty consistent gym rat (although I am now in the process of building a home gym).

One of the consequences of that is I have achy shoulders. Nothing debilitating, they are just achy and sore sometimes. If I sleep wrong, like with my arm over my head, they get really achy. If I hang on the pullup bar- they scream pretty loud. I have read about 500 different articles on shoulder health from miofacial release to stretches. What I am wondering is, do any of you have things you do for your shoulders (or joints in general) that seem to help? Band exercises? Glucosamine? What do you do to help your shoulders?

Does your gym have a bamboo bar? If so, hang a 25lb plate from each side and do 100 reps (25 rep sets). Great for shoulder rehab.

Hi Willly,

Everything your describing i experience too, ive an impingement. Best thing i did was eliminate any exercises that irritate it, for me that means no benching or flyes, and overhead pressing with a parallel grip. When i does flair up i go with static holds which seems to help. Ive done banded and stability exercises till the cows came home, they didnt help in the slightest, perhaps others have hsd a different experience, but then again, perhaps their injury was different too mine.


I’m 55 and I’ve had 3 RC surgeries. Like the others said you probably have an impingement somewhere. Most likely a bone spur.

My suggestion to you is, keep your hands in neutral position as much as possible and reduce your weight significantly and increase your reps. You can still achieve muscle activation and reduce the impacts to your tendons.

It wouldn’t be a terrible idea to have a good ortho surgeon evaluate you and maybe get an MRI.


I started doing biceps and delt laterals first, before any pressing and it works.
Biceps tendons are like assholes when it comes to shoulder pain. They stink and nobody wants to hear them speak.


I have never heard of this. I go to 24 hr fitness when I go, so I doubt it. Ill google it and make sure.

I may have to by a special bar to bench in a neutral grip. I do squeeze press with a neutral grip at the gym, but at home I don’t have dumbbells over 30. I have Kaiser for insurance so its a bit difficult to get past your primary doc, but if I embellish it I may be able to get an MRI.

Thanks Rob,

I hate hearing that. I have a home gym with pretty much a bar, rack and weights and I love it. I also love benching and like working in the heavier rep range. I was hoping somebody would say “I did some mobility work and it fixed everything”, but I figured what you are saying is most likely the answer. I am going to keep building up my home gym so I have more alternatives to standard benching. Thanks for the reply.

So it it tight biceps that cause the shoulder pain or stressed tendons.

It could be anything from a bone spur rubbing on a tendon to an inflamed tendon, or a ruptured tendon. It could even be a pinched nerve.

Don’t let your primary doc diagnose your shoulder. At best he will give you a cortisone shot and at worst, he will put you on long term pain meds and tell you to stop lifting.

There are some things you can tell him, 1) you cant put your belt on with out pain, 2) you can’t lift your arm laterally without pain, 3) you cant raise your arm in front of you (like getting the milk out of the fridge) without pain.

These are huge signals to a Dr that you have a pretty good injury to your rotator cuff.

Thank you. I will try that. On an unrelated note… I found HGH for a good price and tried it out as per your thread. Went and had blood work and pretty much 0 HGH in my system. So frustrating.

So, you bought some HGH and injected and then had blood work done and you came up 0? How long after injection? You should have had some of your own GH if the stuff you bought was fake.

I’m sorry to hear this by the way. Paying good money for fake gear is the worst.

I’ve found doing my upper back work first – band pullaparts and face pulls mostly – helps quite a bit in reducing shoulder pain. Changing the angle of the bench has also helped. Even a very slight incline seems to make a difference in how happy my shoulders are. I also started using Elite’s shoulder saver (basically a two board that attaches to the bar) and that’s helped with getting some heavier weight in my hands on the flat bench though even using the shoulder saver they sometimes aren’t happy with me. Finally, neutral grip landmine shoulder presses using a Viking press attachment have also really helped. Agree with the others too though that you’re best off getting an MRI and an ortho to look at it so you know what’s going on in the joint itself.

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It was about 5 hours after. It was less than 1 and the range was less than 7 I think. Bummed me out.

Thank you. Ill try the landmines. I may have to invest in the shoulder saver too.

Willy, I had bone spurs, a partially torn labrum, arthritis, a partially torn ( frayed) bicep tendon, the way you describe sleeping and the bottom position of a chin-up was what I was experiencing, but mine got to the point where it would wake me up and be very painful , pressing exercises were out, couldn’t squat because I couldn’t get my shoulder to externally rotate etc etc…all that said, I am not a doctor so your best bet is to see one.

I would see the doc before investing in anything…

I do do lots of band work and I agree with other posters that say doing other things before pressing helps. My surgery was back in Jan. Im pretty good now, don’t have the range of motion and some occasional soreness but 1000% better.

I do take Foxtrot from Redcon but as much for being 60 is it anything specific…just makes things a little more fluid.

Enough rambling; best of luck!

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I am new to forum, not sure where to put this question for your input. I am 56, and I still compete 2-3 times a year. That being said, I have had similar issues as older goat. I went to my ortho to get my mri read regarding my shoulder. I seems my bicep tendon is going to pop at any time with some other problems he can just debris it and clean it. He basically told me, I have 2 options. 1. get it reattached with a 16 week recovery OR 2. Don’ t reattach the tendon and let it migrate down. with 2 week recovery. Considering my age and the fact I don’t want to lose any/very little strength. I don’t care about the aesthetics. Can you you share your experiences and advice. TIA

Both of my biceps tendons are ruptured. It would require extensive surgery to reattach them and as you said, its a long rehab.

I personally hate the way they look, I have indentations where they used to be and my biceps never seem to grow. Strength wise, I’m done chasing numbers anymore so that doesn’t matter.

If you compete in BB, you might want to consider the surgery, if its PL, then they won’t have much impact on your lifts.

It is powerlifting thanks for the input