Frank Salvatore
Health and Lifestyle

Relief From Shoulder Pain in the Gym

September 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Shoulder injuries make up over a third of all major weight-room injuries because they are not limited to one body type. No matter one’s ability, the shoulder can be overworked or over-strained, resulting in injury. These injuries often take several months to recover from and often end up recurring with time.

Chances are, if you are spending time in the weight room, you experience shoulder pain at some point. This is a sign that something is wrong and a more severe injury could be on its way. When the shoulder fails, it is hard to navigate through everyday life due to the fact that it is such an important joint. Here are some things you can do to protect your shoulders from being injured.

1. Avoid Exercises That Harm the Shoulders

There is a strong link between shoulder injuries or pain and movements done with arms parallel to the ground and the hands up towards the sky. Some staple exercises in these position are the behind-the-neck pulldown and the shoulder press.

These exercises are often suggested to strengthen the shoulders by physical therapists, but they actually make the joints unstable by stretching the surrounding tissues. These unstable joints cause the rotator cuff to become pinched, which leads to inflammation and chronic pain.

Lifters experiencing sore shoulders often blame the bench press, which may add to shoulder pain, but not nearly as much as the impingement of a rotator cuff. However, to make sure that other shoulder exercises are not contributing to the pain, it is important to ensure you have correct form.

2. Focus On Form

The weight of the load is not as important as the form of the movement. People with proper form lifting heavy weights do not have a higher rate of injury than those lifting lighter weights. Poor form causes muscle imbalance and improper movement patterns that result in damage.

Doing a lot of reps with bad form is very harmful on the shoulder, no matter how much weight is being held. It is much better to do fewer reps with perfect form and heavier weights than more reps with lighter weights and improper form.

3. Strengthen Your Traps

It is important to do external-rotation strengthening exercises to target all of the muscles and joints surrounding the shoulder. This includes the external rotators, the deltoids, and the small muscles in the shoulders that stabilize the joint. It also reduces the risk of impingement. Also, strengthen the lower trapezius muscles in the upper back so these muscles are better able to protect the shoulders.

4. Sleep on Your Good Side

Avoid sleeping on an injured shoulder, as it can prevent proper healing and even make the injury worse. If you rest your head on your injured arm, the blood flow if cut off to the injury which slows down its repair. Even if one shoulder is not injured, it is important to alternate sides when you sleep to not make any joint prone to injury.

The best way to sleep is on the unaffected side with your arms with out in front of you, or hugging a pillow. This facilitates blood flow. Alternate sides in this position each night if you are injury-free.

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Frank Salvatore