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5 Reasons You Could Be Having Shoulder Pain

5 Reasons You Could Be Having Shoulder Pain

  1. Are your shoulders starting to become more and more bothersome during your workouts? 
  2. Are you constantly feeling discomfort, pain, and stiffness during and after your training sessions? 
  3. Is your shoulder discomfort starting to discourage you from your training?

If you are experiencing shoulder pain in your training then today I want to talk about some sins you might be committing in your strength and conditioning that might be causing you some discomfort. When it comes to training for optimal results you must be able to understand and address your body’s needs before anything else.  Today’s article should be a good place for you to start looking for just that.

Training Mistakes That Can Cause Shoulder Pain

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1) Too much barbell bench press:

This is one that seems to be a common culprit for causing a great deal of shoulder pain and discomfort. Often times this habit is a bit more common with guys, but regardless if you’re barbell bench pressing two to three days a week every week chances are you’re going to start to develop some shoulder pain.

There is a saying that there is no such thing as bad exercises only bad people. I interpret this as people are the center of their own problems. The barbell in and of itself is fine as a training implement, but people that misuse and abuse it usually end of suffering the consequences.

The barbell bench press is a free weighted movement, but the barbell itself sort of fixes the shoulder into a restricted pattern where excessive volume of lifting it may lead to an overuse injury of the shoulder. To avoid this make sure you take some time away from the barbell. It’s ok to pick up a dumbbell and press from time to time.

2) An imbalance of pulling to pushing ratio: 

This one tends to be a common problem throughout the health club culture. Just like too much barbell bench press can start causing you problems so can too much pushing, or pressing in general if it’s not offset by some pulling exercises to strengthen your posterior muscles.

Once again any development of an asymmetry, or imbalance in your body is only going to lead to pain in a surrounding area. So if you think about it when it comes to pressing and pushing all the movement is occurring in the anterior ( or front) of your body. Consequently most of us live a lifestyle where most movement and shoulder posture tends to go in that same direction anyway.

So for the most part if you already tend to get an overuse of movement and posture emphasizing anterior development in front of your body then you could be worsening an already bad imbalance. To offset this I always program my students to perform two pulling related movements to every one pushing related movement to ensure more symmetry.

3) Tight Lats: 

This one is also very common among several trainees. As a result, tight lats mean you’re going to be limited in trying to hold your arm directly overhead. One quick and easy assessment I like to perform with a new trainee is to ask them to hold their arm directly overhead to see if they can get their arm directly overhead.

What I generally find is that most people can’t. One of the reasons for this is due to tight lats. Right now if you lift your arm above your head as you approach peak you may feel a pull, or some resistance in your lat muscle. If this is the case then you’re tight and if you’re tight then you’re going to be restricted.

Work to stretch the lat to get your shoulder fully into flexion. The sooner you do this the less likely you are to compensate somewhere else and cause yourself potential shoulder, or back problems. One way you cure this is by getting into the downward dog stretch to pry open the shoulder girdle. Perform a 30 second hold in the downward dog position to stretch out your lats.

4) Not enough external rotation:

Stand up straight with your hands by your side. Now rotate your thumbs so that they point away from your body out to the sides. What you’re doing here is externally rotating the head of your humerus (upper arm).

With many the lifestyle in our modern society promotes much of the opposite which is internal rotation. Once again there is too much of an overload of one posture without a fix to offset the problem. Therefore a slouched posture with forward rounding shoulders is a prime example of this.

If you want to combat this you need to work at training movements to promote thoracic extension and external rotation of your shoulder. So here’s a cool band exercise for you to do prior for training to help you to fix that very thing.

So perform 3 sets of 5–5 second holds of this prior to your upper body lifting days.

5) Not enough shoulder extension: 

Do understand shoulder extension stand up straight with your arms down by your sides. Now keeping your arms straight move them back behind your body as if your trying to point your hands in the direction behind you.

As you do this you’ll find that you’ll feel a stretch in the anterior portion (or front) of your shoulders. This is a great way to stretch out the shoulders and is a common movement that tends to be neglected by most everyone. As a result, there is a huge lack of shoulder extension involved in most individual programs.

One way you can combat this is with a cool dynamic bodyweight drill I use in my programming that I refer to as the crab to reach. However it’s a bit more moderate to advanced drill, but is essentially similar to the crab stretch except your doing so on one arm at a time.

So perform 3 sets of 5 reps on each side prior to your more intense upper body days.

Causes Of Shoulder Pain: The Takeaway

Some intelligent adjustments in your training will fix a great deal of acute shoulder pain. To avoid shoulder joint issues, or any joint issues for that matter you’ve got to be willing to recognize how to train yourself to meet your body’s needs. This comes with intelligent programming and discipline.

Are you currently experiencing shoulder pain in your training?

What shoulder mobility work do you do to combat shoulder stiffness?

Post up and share in the comments here below.

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I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

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