Shoulder pain, quite possibly the most common injury in the gym, is commonly caused by 1 of 2 factors. The first being improper form and the second being too frequent pressing. In most scenarios the athlete is experiencing what is known as a shoulder impingement. Many shoulder injuries can be remedied and prevented by taking the time to properly warm them up before a workout. If you want to learn more about how to fix shoulder pain and common injuries, keep reading!
1) Improper Form:
Most gym-goers have horrendous bench form. They lay back on the bench and press the bar, extending the shoulders forward and then wonder why the shoulders hurt. The bench, specifically barbell flat bench, is putting the shoulder in a very vulnerable position that will leave many athletes susceptible to getting an impingement. The proper way to bench (and any pressing movement) is to retract the shoulder blades. [This technique is commonly referred to as “back and down” The goal is to squeeze the shoulder blades together in the back and then push them downwards until they are nice and tight.] This is the start of the lift.
2) Too Frequent Pressing:
All too many gym-goers and athletes alike do too much pressing. Specifically, too much bench- pressing. On top of this most people ignore shoulder pain and make the injury worse. Most shoulder injuries start as a slight discomfort or tight almost pressure-like feeling deep within the shoulder. If you feel this stop what you are doing, do not press through the pain.
How To Fix Shoulder Pain And Common Injuries
How to strengthen and repair the shoulders
First things first if you are suffering from severe shoulder pain it is highly advised you go for an MRI to determine the exact cause of the pain.
Strengthening and repairing damaged shoulders takes time, but your shoulders should be feeling better after the first warmup. Whenever my shoulders are tight, I do this warmup and almost instantly they I start to feel a reduction in pain and stiffness within the joint.
I start by doing shoulder dislocations with a light resistance band. Basically, the goal is to hold the band out in front of your body with an extra wide grip. Bring the band straight up, over and behind the body until your arms are now completely behind you and then return to the start. Your arms must remain straight and locked out through the entire movement. If they bend at all you need to increase the distance between your hands. Perform 20-30 reps of this and your shoulders will be on fire. This drill is very good for freeing up stiff/tight shoulders and increasing range of motion. Every workout aim to bring your hands slightly closer.
The next 2 exercises I do are performed with a shoulder-height cable with a D-handle. We are going to be performing internal and external rotations. I use the lightest weight possible for these and just go for high reps (15-20.) For internal rotation grab the D-handle with your right hand. Your right shoulder should be facing the cable stack with your body facing straight. Take a small step away from the cable machine so the weight begins pulling on your shoulder. This is the start position. From here bring the weight across the body and inwards towards the other shoulder. Keep your elbow locked against your side throughout the movement. Repeat the process for your left hand. For an external rotation start with your right hand in the D-handle and your left shoulder facing the weight stack. Pull the weight outwards and repeat for the other arm.
Try doing these 3 exercises every day and you should see noticeable shoulder improvement.
How to further prevent injury
Understand and accept the fact that genetically not everyone is made to press. Some people will never be able to bench without shoulder pain. Consider adding some alternatives to your routine to reduce pain while still working the muscle just as hard as you would normally.
Switch all your presses to dumbbell. If the pain persists turn the hands inwards so the palms face each other when pressing.
If overhead pressing causes pain: don’t do it. There are tons of exercises available that will give equal if not better shoulder development than the overhead press. However, if you must overhead press do so with a trap bar, football or swiss bar with the palms of the hands facing. Also try doing a landmine press, it is much easier on the shoulders than the barbell overhead press and still allows you to move heavy weights.