Posted by Sandbender in StrongLifts.com Forum:
I've been doing Stronglifts 5x5 since November 2007. I injured my right shoulder while lifting 3 weeks ago. Pain between spine & shoulder-blade, shooting into biceps.
Prior to that, I've had persistent pain in my right shoulder. I think the pain was from holding my right hand out for the mouse plus bad sitting posture. I'm working to address the ergonomics of my desk.
Daily I've been doing:
Should I take a break from pressing to allow the shoulder time to heal? Are there other exercises that would assist in strengthening the shoulder girdle?
The Infraspinatus. One of your 4 rotator cuff muscles. The Infraspinatus is a dynamic stabilizer & assists in outward arm rotation. It's located behind your shoulder & covers your shoulder-blade.
Image credit: A.D.A.M.
How Do You Get Infraspinatus Injuries? Habitual overload or repetitive strain related to outward arm rotation can injure your Infraspinatus. Examples:
- Keeping Arm in Front/Overhead. Driving car with your hands on top of wheel, working on computer without elbow support, etc
- Reaching Back Repeatedly. Controlling computer mouse, forehands in tennis, smash in volleyball, etc
Symptoms of Infraspinatus Injuries. Although the infraspinatus is located behind your shoulder, pain is usually felt in your front shoulder.
- Front Shoulder Pain. Pain down into biceps. Pain feels as if it's deep in the joint. Side shoulder, neck & shoulder-blade can also hurt.
- Stiff/Weak Shoulder. Shoulder & arm tire out more easily on one side than the other. Muscle imbalances. Stiffness. Arm going numb.
- Restricted Mobility. Reaching back – like when putting on your jacket – is difficult. Lying on your shoulder when sleeping hurts.
How to Treat Infraspinatus Injuries. Other rotator cuff muscle will compensate the weak/injured infraspinatus. This can cause problems in your whole shoulder – like frozen shoulders. Don't let this get out of hand.
1. Fix Posture. Correct posture when sitting & doing exercises like Barbell Rows or Bench Press is shoulder-blades back & down. Hanging shoulders & flaring shoulder-blades is bad posture. Exercises you can do:
- Shoulder Dislocations. Improve upper-body mobility. 3x10 reps as warmup / on recovery days. Start with a wide grip.
- Doorway Chest Stretch. Tight chest muscles will pull your shoulders down. 3 sets of 10 seconds post workout/ on recovery days.
- Bike Face Pulls. Strengthen your upper-back & traps. Squeeze your shoulder-blades when pulling back. 3x10 reps post workout.
- Pelvis Realignment. Problems with your shoulders often means problems with your hips. Check for symptoms of lordosis.
2. Trigger Point Therapy. Trigger points are knots in your muscles caused by overstimulation. These can shorten & stiffen your muscles. Movement stresses muscle attachments, which can damage connective tissue & distort joints.
Popping shoulder joints are evidence of joint stress caused by trigger points. Stretches & rehability exercises can irritate trigger points and aggravate your pain. To remove the knots:
- Infraspinatus Massage. Massage your shoulder-blade using a tennis ball against a wall. 20 strokes several times a day.
- Rhomboid Massage. Between shoulder-blade & spine lies the Rhomboid which can also be overworked. Massage it using a ball or Thera Cane like in this video.
3. Prevention. Posture realignment exercises & trigger point therapy won't do much if you have bad posture the other 20 hours of the day.
- Sit Correctly. Build the habit of sitting with your shoulder-blades back & down. Put a post it on your computer "shoulder-blades back & down".
- Drink More. The best way to move more when you have a desk job. You'll be forced to get out of your chair to go to the toilet.
- Switch Sides. Use your left hand for a while so your right hand gets a break. It takes 2 days to build dexterity in your other hand. Persist.
- Quality Chair. Adjustable chair with elbow support so your shoulders stay relaxed. Aeron Chairs or Steelcase Chairs are worth the money.
- Balanced Program. As much pulling (Rows, Pull-ups) as pushing (Bench & Overhead Press). 1 overhead session for each Bench Press session.
Stay away from painkillers. Pain is your body telling you something is wrong. Find out what. Educate yourself. Ask your doctor's advice. But make sure you treat the causes, not the symptoms.
Take it slowly with weight lifting in the meanwhile. Lower the weight, spend time improving technique & slowly build back up. Don't worry about strength loss, getting rid of injuries is more important in the long run.