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Top of Shoulder Pain with Snatches

Hi, I’ve recently started Snatches. I’m taking it easy, only doing with empty bar or very light weight to get the form down. However, I’ve started to get some top shoulder pain. It hurts when I raise my arm to snatch overhead position – like a wide grip overhead press. Curiously, normal or close grip overhead position doesn’t give any pain. Here is an image that shows the approximate pain area and affected arm position in my left shoulder: http://i.imgur.com/5qJE5z8.jpg

Indeed, it’s not on front of the shoulder, but on top. It doesn’t hurt (or hurts very very little) in rest, the pain pretty much comes only with that arm position. Didn’t have it before, snatches started it. Any idea what is it about?

Does it hurt when you perform the movement when you before the movement with no weight? Try performing the movement with bare hands and raise your arms overhead to see if there is pain. It’s possible that the issue is due to scapular muscles (downward rotators/retractors) not correctly engaged.

As you said, close grip/normal doesn’t give pain, which suggests that since more load is taken up by the triceps, the shoulder isn’t as much of an issue. When the load goes over to the shoulders, you start to feel pain.

Give more details as to what your warm-up is, do your external rotators get warmed up or do you train them, can you retract/depress/upwardly rotate/downwardly rotate the scapula properly and such. This will give a better way to figure issues.

Thanks for the reply. Yeah it hurts with bare hands, just that wide grip position (regardless of weight) is enough to bring the pain to the spot specified in the opening post.

I’ve been doing shoulder dislocations with a broomstick long time, before the pain even started. I also did external and internal rotation strengthening exercises for rotator cuff with rubber band and light weights although dropped it before starting snatches.

There is no pain in other positions, only when the left arm is in that top (wide) snatch position, the pain occurs. For example, putting arms in front of me and raising them like this does not hurt, because arms are not wide apart above.

To be honest I think it’s some kind of impingement but I’m not a doctor. Perhaps my left arm’s top snatch position is wrong and thus puts unnecessary strain on the shoulder?

Wait the pain is only in the left arm?

Regardless, I’ve noticed that having weak retractors/tight pec muscles and poor upward rotation can cause pain during overhead work. To address, try working on the scaps prior to bare-hand snatches. Do this by performing scap pushups (this exercise also addresses the serratus, an upward rotator), dumbell retractions, scapula pulls on a pullup bar and upward rotation work. All these exercises are straight-forward except a few. Do dumbell retractions by laying on a bench and holding dumbells in both your arms. Now pull the scaps backward (retract) fully and hold for a few seconds and then slowly lower your arms to return your scaps in the original position. Repeat for reps/sets. Now for scapula pulls, hang from a pullup bar and “retract AND depress” or the cue often used is “bend the bar”. If this exercise is too difficult, you can assist it by placing your legs on ground/bench in front of you and then performing it to make it easier for yourself. Lastly, to address upward rotation, READ THIS ARTICLE THAT ADDRESSES IT IN THE CONTEXT OF SNATCHES:

Do this re-hab for some time and then try the movement again with bare hands and let us know how it feels. Good luck.

Excellent response.

@anselm.t how much vertical pressing and heavy barbell pressing in your routine? It could be a cumulative joint stress issue in programming.

From the look of the pic in the first post by him and his comments, it doesn’t seem like he has done much overhead work; if he had, I don’t think he’d be having this issue now or he would’ve discovered it much earlier.

Thanks for the replies!

fitengineer: Yes, pain is only in the left shoulder. I might try the exercises you posted - however I dropped Snatch some time ago to let the body heal. The top of the shoulder is pain-free now. Now am trying Clean & Jerk, the grip is closer which might help because with Snatch it was indeed the wide grip that hurt.

bacher: I dropped barbell bench pressing altogether some time ago. It was giving me shoulder pain in front of the left shoulder (different place than the Snatch pain in the above photo). After that, I’ve concentrated on pulling exercises.

Now, after doing some C&J, I can feel slight, similar to Snatch type pain in the left shoulder. It’s not as bad but can feel it when arm is in certain positions (not during the C&J, but during daily activities). The pain is in different place than the Snatch pain but indeed feels quite similar.

To be honest, because of my tendency to get pain in the left shoulder, I’ve given thought to different reasons. One probable could be that I have a tendency to roll the left shoulder forward, bringing it further forward than it should. This does not happen to the right shoulder: and indeed there has never been a problem with that shoulder. So perhaps I’m not keeping left shoulder back and down in the gym either and that causes problems?

Have to pay attention to this next time…

I think chiropractic care is a better option than many other treatments. One of my friend got chiropractic treatment for his shoulder pain and had a wonderful experience with this therapy. He visited one of reputed chiropractor in Mississauga Ontario for the treatment.