T Nation

Upper Back Pain After Military Press


Hi, I am new to the whole scene of lifting and my guess is that my form was not great during my military press lifts last week. Anyhow, there is a pain in my upper back now and I was wondering if it is serious or not. I can only feel it if I jump or do a very sudden movement. I do not feel any pain while walking or doing regular activities. It feels as if it is in my spine which scares me a lot, but I read some articles which suggest I could of simply pulled a muscle.

I also want to know what is suggested to do in this case? How long of a rest should I take and can I do any exercises at all? I was thinking taking it easy on my back and finding a bicep routine so if that can be done in my case and you got a link to a routine feel free to post.

Thanks again for any help.


Hard to evaluate something like this from a post, but I'd say you'd want to consider seeing a doctor/chiropractor if your symptoms don't subside or improve in a week or so. If it were me (again, not a doc), I'd try taking some anti-inflammatories for a few days (Aleve is a good one!) and icing that spot.

If the symptom is produced only during certain movements, perhaps you've got a subluxated (misaligned) vertebrae or something of that nature (chiropractor would be a good route).

Have you tried foam rolling your thoracic spine (upper back)? Simply get on a foam roll, laying on your mid-back facing the ceiling, and give yourself a 'self-hug,' then roll up toward your shoulders. This may help stretch tight muscles, etc.

Note - Don't do biceps thinking you are resting your back! my form was awful w/ curls (not noticeably in the gym, but when discussing my 2 year nagging unilateral, rear shoulder pain w/ my PT, he pointed out that my shoulder blades were winging out like a Teradactyl going in for the kill, when I set up for standing curls, rather than keeping a tight core and keeping my shoulders back and down... something that sounds easy, until you are working those last few reps or going heavy weight... years of crappy body english and bad form can be hard to undo.). *just my experience.


Thanks for the heads up man. I will definitely see a doctor about it if the pain continues after a week of rest. As far as exercise goes I began doing some stretches which should release the tension and allow faster recovery. Is it safe to do anything at the gym such as cardio or should I just take a complete break from my workouts to allow my body to recuperate?


You're welcome, hope it helps.

As far as the cardio goes, if it were me and I was only taking a week or so to see if it improves, I'd still consider cardio if I could do it pain free (I don't like sitting on the sidelines!)... perhaps the recumbent bike or some other exercise where you are not using as much upper body. Obviously it's not going to be the same intensity level if you're only using the lower half of your body versus a treadmill or eliptical with cross country ski style moving handles. However, it's better than nothing if you're a gym rat looking to still get there to get your daily stress relief, training, and do something active while you work around the nagging injury.

If you are doing an exercise that causes you to feel the pain, even if it is minimal (minimal x repetition = recipe for lots of pain later and further damage), stop immediately.

When you get back in to it, go light weight, and MAKE SURE YOU ARE LOOSE AND WARMED UP, and using good form, especially w/ anything shoulder related. I'd try some light weight lateral arm raises, with your thumbs pointed toward the ceiling (opens up your shoulders and is a safer position).

Good luck.