CSA Physio Blog

Shoulder pain while working out is not normal!

Posted on: January 18th, 2019 by Kevin Arkko

Shoulder pain while working out is not normal!

It’s Monday, what I call “international bench press day” (for all the folks trying to get in shape again after a hard weekend).  The number of people who continue pressing through shoulder pain is phenomenal. In many gym circles shoulder pain with barbell pressing movements like the bench press and military press has come to be thought of as normal. I have fallen into this trap myself and continued to press through pain because it “wasn’t that bad”, and I had come to accept it as normal. It’s time for us all to understand that it is not normal, and we can get rid of our shoulder pain without having to give up our favourite pressing movements.

Impingement Syndrome, anyone?

One common cause of shoulder pain with pressing movements is impingement, which is basically another word for pinching.  If you continually pinch the tendons of your rotator cuff guess what…you get sore shoulders!  So what causes shoulder impingement? There are multiple causes but one of the most common is poor control of your shoulder blades. The only bony connection from your shoulder blade to the rest of your skeleton is through your collar bone.  Therefore, without a lot of “bony stability”, your shoulder blade needs a whole bunch of ‘muscular stability’.  Since your shoulder blade can move in six different directions it is imperative that the muscles around the shoulder blade are not only strong but coordinated.

The Solution

The problem is often an imbalance of all the muscles that control your shoulder blade (ie: trapezius, serratus anterior, levator scapula, pectoralis minor if you want to get technical). Targeted exercises to strengthen and re-train the coordination of the muscles around the shoulder blade can be the key to getting back to pain-free pressing.  As the primary movement / exercise based rehabilitation professionals here in Canada, physiotherapists like myself can help identify your imbalance, and teach your the correction for it.  If you want your shoulder to last for a few more decades, you really should get things back in balance as soon as possible.  It works for me!


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