If shoulder pain hinders you from going in BEAST MODE while your training, check out this article to find some ways to battle back!...
What is the one thing every weight room across the country has in common, other than grunting muscle heads that is? Next time you walk into your gym stop and take account of the gentlemen at any one of the many flat benches in the gym. What you are going to see is a guy smashing out his last rep standing up and rubbing one or both of his shoulders with a cringe of pain.
"But what is this pain, why is it happening, and more importantly
how do you stop it?"
The most common forms of shoulder injuries come from rotator cuff strains, rotator cuff impingement, and Acromioclavicular joint sprain which is lovingly referred to as “Weightlifters Shoulder. There are many shoulder ailments that affect us bodybuilders and power lifters but these are most common and more embarrassingly our own faults.
Rotator Cuff Strains
These are a very common injury and are easily treated by taking 1-2 weeks off the shoulder. What this means is unfortunately you will have to learn how to do a workout other than a bench press and a military press.
Maybe you could focus these two weeks on a lagging body part (I.E. LEGS!). Like I said
before this is generally pretty easy to get over but ignoring it will lead you into our next
problem. Rotator Cuff Impingement- Now you’ve gone and done it. Your love for the bench
press has gone over board and now you are looking at some serious physical therapy
(not cheap), a month or more out of the gym (I feel your pain), and possibly Cortisone
injections (painful at best). This is because you have caused one or more of these injuries:
- Tendinitis. The rotator cuff tendons can be irritated or damaged.
- Bursitis. The bursa can become inflamed and swell with more fluid causing pain.
- Impingement. When you raise your arm to shoulder height, the space between the acromion and rotator cuff narrows.
The acromion can rub against (or "impinge" on) the tendon and the bursa, causing irritation and pain. Now if you are lucky you will be back in the gym in a month after physical therapy and the Cortisone injections and feeling a lot better. On the other hand you could have progressed so far into impingement than surgery is required.
AC Joint Sprain
Weight lifters Shoulder is generally caused by overtraining
(see article http://www.illpumpyouup.com/articles/are-you-over-training-in-
the-gym.htm for information on overtraining). This sprain comes in three degrees
first degree being the mildest and third being the most severe. Yet again a first
and second degree sprain will end you up in the physical therapists office but a third
will find you on a stretcher preparing for surgery.
All of the above can be “Gain Killers” as the pain caused by them can be severe
enough to limit proper range of motion and joint function. So how do you stop it?
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and in this instance they are definitely correct. The problem lifters face with their shoulders generally is not from blunt force trauma but rather from poor form, excessive weight, and repetitive overuse. So before your next benching session remember these things.
Get your blood pumping to the shoulders with a light weight warm up and prepare your rotator cuff with these exercises:
- Anterior Rotation - While lying on your left side on a flat bench grasp a 5-8 pound dumbbell with your right hand. With your elbow bent at a 90 degree angle at your right side bring your forearm from rest to parallel with the floor and then return. Repeat for 2 sets of 15 repetitions on each side.
- Lateral Rotation - While lying face down on a flat bench grasp a 5-8 pound dumbbell with your left hand. Your elbow should be shoulder level with your fist pointing towards the floor. Raise the dumbbell forward until your hand has reached shoulder level then return. Repeat this for 2 sets of 15 on each side.
- Windmills - Now here is a favorite from 7th grade P.E. class. While standing straight raise your arms to shoulder level at your sides. With palms facing down make small circles in the air with your arms. Continue this for 45 seconds, repeat twice.
Another way to ease your shoulder pain is as simple as stretching. The shoulder is an extremely complex and flexible joint than can become tight with lack of stretching. A simple 5-10 minutes of stretching before a shoulder workout can reduce your likely hood of injury significantly. Some of the stretches include:
- Chest Cross - Take your left arm and bring it straight across your chest level with your right shoulder. Take your right hand and gently press your left arm closer to your chest. Continue for 40 seconds and switch sides.
- Over Under - Holding a towel in your left hand raise your left arm straight up in the air and bend at the elbow until your hand is behind your head. With your right arm down at your side bend your elbow until your hand is in the middle of your back or you can grab the towel with your hand. Once you grab the towel slowly lift up with your left arm. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.
Take a break!
All of us involved in this wonderful sport love the gym. No one can fault you for wanting to go in day in and day out and crush the weights. That being said there comes a time when you have been at it for long enough that the best gains you make and the best workouts you have are when you are feeling mentally and physically good. Above is a link to an article written by another contributor on this site. Many of us do not realize the toll overtraining has on us mentally and physically. Here are a couple of tips to keep you from going crazy on your days off:
- Hit The Outdoors - Hop on a bike and go for a ride. Don’t think of it as a cardio session, think of it as a chance to get out there and enjoy a beautiful day.
- Hit The Pool - The pool is a great place to relax and let the body take a break. The pressure from hauling around 220 plus pounds on a 5’7” frame can weigh heavily on your back and your joints. Float around for a while and yet again, this is not a cardio session!
Lastly and most importantly stop and take time to be with family, friends, and loved ones. Many people do not understand the life that we have chosen with all the injuries, dieting, tanning, supplements, and the rest of it that goes along with this sport. These people have stood by you even though they may not understand what drives you. So take some time out of your workout schedule to take care of yourself and to show all of those who support you that you appreciate them. Now get out there and train with your brain!