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Shoulder sore, killing my workouts, should I shut it down?

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Like the subject says - left shoulder (weak side) soreness won't go away for a couple weeks now. Been doing Stronglifts 5x5 for 3 months now, was doing great but now I can barely do the overhead press and bench that I was easily doing 2 months ago. Soreness is there all day even after icing, hurts to lift my arm over shoulder level. Wondering should I shut the whole thing done for a few weeks or keep doing what isn't problematic (i.e.. squats and dead lift)? (I'm 49, male)

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Can you describe where the pain generates from? Maybe from this diagram?


Can you list out the exercises you do that primarily focus on shoulders? I experienced some chronic pain after regularly doing front-raises. Then I read up on the exercise itself, and discovered that it high generally unfavored because of the tension it places on the teres major/major and infraspinatus fascia. Anyhow, I asked a doctor how to alleviate the pain, and he said "stop lifting things up like that." Maybe not the most detailed advice, but I stopped doing that exercise, and quit training anything that utilized shoulders (including deadlifts because it's heavy on the trapezius, rows, military press, lat raise, and delt fly) for a couple weeks. After some actual rest (aka not just a day or two) the pain subsided.


Not sure of your medical history, and even despite your age (I'm 34) I think we need to really be careful of those little muscle groups we have buried in among the larger. They support the big muscles, and if we continue to train through injury, it places more strain on the big muscles, which means it's more likely to cause a major injury.


If you've been lifting for a while, and you lift heavy on 5x5, you could probably take a week or two off and not see much in loss of gains/strength.

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You might need to do some exercises - with ultra light weights or no extra weight at all - for the rotator cuff muscles (see youtub for videos).


Doing some shoulder mobility and/or flexibility exercises - such as shrugging, rotating the shoulders, and pushing them forwards and backwards (to extend and retract the shoulder blades) might help.


Some exercises that I have found useful in the past are:

scapular press ups (push ups in the USA).


Also scapular pull ups on a pull up bar - just pull yourself up an inch or two with straight arms so that only the shoulders and shoulder blades do the work. Or do it almost horizontal on a lower bar with your feet on the floor or a chair.


Scapular wall slides - see youtube. In case the video you find doesn't explain things, you should gently press your arms and the backs of your hands against the wall and you move them up and down. Go as far as you can with your hands and arms against the wall and stop when they lift off the wall. Seated is best to avoid hyperextenstion of the lumbar region.


Shoulder stretches using a pole, as in this video on youtube: Increase Shoulder Flexibility Fast with This Shoulder Stretch youtube.com/watch?v=KoGtrEcsqPQ


Don't do any of them that cause pain. A little pain might be acceptable but only you can judge.


Test your thoracic spine flexibility as stiffness there can cause shoulder pain. Foam roller work is useful as are various exercises. Again, youtube is your friend for instruction videos.

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I guess it would be the deltoid, in that area. Never had a problem with any shoulder before. Dr. Google says it could be a torn labrum, common with weightlifting.


Overhead press and bench press were the exercises most affected by the pain. Dead lift is not a problem.


I quit doing anything that put stress on that shoulder for about 10 days, took aspirin for anti-inflammatory. Now I'm back doing 5x5 - deloaded 10% and everything feels much better. Soreness is still there but I just did some bench press and it felt strong. I dunno maybe I just need to add weight at a slower pace, was getting ahead of myself. If my left arm was as strong/pain free as my right I'm sure I'd be lifting about 30% more than I am now.


Thanks for the detailed advice, will try those exercises.

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You should focus on your neck while doing any exercises. Make sure you are not tensing up neck muscles in awkward positions (chin forward, chin way up, sternomastoid over-contracting/traps creeping up) while performing your exercises. Just one wrong move could tweak the nerve and inflame it. You can also build the neck muscles up too much and pinch a nerve that way. You can do the stretch where you place your right hand over your head to the left side of your head, and as you move your head to the left side, you cradle your head with your right hand and pull to the right. Stretch your neck on the left side while fighting against your right hand. Stretch it while contracting the neck muscles. Do it before, while, and after you exercise till it feels better.


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  • 2 weeks later...



I had once upon a time, persistent shoulder pain, what I learned.....may or may not be totally correct, but what I was told and what I did to fix it.


1) Shoulder not so much designed as a heavy duty joint. LOTS of muscles in play at the shoulder, and not working ALL of them equally can create imbalance.


2) was doing all the usual popular exercises (shoulder press, bench press, bit of shoulder shrugs, shoulder flies......


3) fix was to get on the cables, lighter weight, and do these exercises (not sure their correct name but will describe...

- adjust cables so that the handle is at parallel height with right arm at 90 degree angle, standing with cable rack on the right side.

- keep arm at 90 degree angle, elbow tight to ribs, rotate the shoulder joint as pulling the weight across your body.

- repeat, but standing with weight stack on the left, rotating the shoulder in the opposite direction....

- repeat on left side.


took some time, but have never had pain since then. But also note, I do not bench press any more. Bodyweight exercises, or use dumbells. Variety of exercises on the shoulder joint.


Was told that shoulder not designed as a heavy lift joint (again, can't vouch for accuracy, Robert would be better for expert advice there). Going heavy on the weights makes strength of the whole shoulder matter...

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