Bad shoulders can have a huge limiting effect on training. With all the complaints and questions we get about shoulder pain and injury, we decided to share a little bit about how you can overcome them and work around them.
Shoulders are arguably the most versatile, complex joints in the human body. The joint moves in every direction, giving it incredible mobility and range. The joint type is called a ball and socket. The top of the humerus (upper arm bone) is sphere shaped, and it rests between several bones and soft tissue which make up the "socket".
Unfortunately, the joint is fragile and prone to injury when the soft tissue is compromised. Ligaments and tendons attach the joint in every direction, which is how it is able to move so freely. However, if one of these many muscles is too tight or too weak, pain and limitations follow soon after.
Treating shoulder pain
In a general article, it is impossible to diagnose a shoulder injury. As a result, there are some general rules you can follow in the time when you are not being treated by a therapist or physician (we recommend consulting a physician or health professional for advice and treatment, as soon as possible).
- Ice; pain and injury often come with swelling and inflammation. Even if you don't think it is inflamed, ice your shoulder! Try 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off, then a second round! By reducing inflammation, you'll be able to feel normal and allow the healing process to start sooner rather than later.
- Rest; depending on how you've been training, there could be a lot of wear and tear on the joint. Over-training or simply
- Stretch; sometimes a tight shoulder can cause pain. Try stretching the joint from many directions to see what "feels good" on the joint.
- Once the pain subsides, avoid compromising movements. Focus on strengthening the weak parts of your shoulder joint, and continue with rehab!
Continuing training with a shoulder injury
- Train within your comfort zone
- Avoid "half" movements which use the shoulder in any awkward way. For example, push ups with a wide grip or elbows poking out to the sides. Stick with stable movements such as a chest press on a machine as opposed to free weights. These will allow you to use the muscles without compromising form/ technique.
- Always stop training when pain arises!
- Focus on your other weaknesses! Just because the shoulder is bad, it doesn't mean you can't work on everything else! Legs, thighs, glutes and lower back can all be trained intensely with a shoulder injury and have no negative or delaying effect on your shoulder.
- Always ice after training or using the shoulder, just in case!
- Always follow the advice of your therapist! Perform all exercises, stretches, etc, as directed, and don't forget that one injury leads to more injuries very quickly if not treated properly.
A final word of advice? Never over-train the shoulders and always warm them up very well before lifting! These injuries come creeping back and can cause a decade or more of problems. Stay safe and train hard!
Amino Z Personal Trainer