What is the cause of lifter's shoulders and what is the cure?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Sep 14, 2017
Quick Bites

  • Incorrect shoulder mobility is usually a common cause.
  • Inappropriate movement patterns can also be a cause.
  • Corrective exercise can restore external rotation of shoulders.

If you do heavy lifting on a daily basis, your shoulders may have to bear the brunt once in a while. Shoulders are at a much higher risk of injuries because of weight training compared with other body parts.

Lifter's shoulders is a common complaint among bodybuilders and weightlifters. This is why trainers keep emphasising on the posture in which you weight train. If your posture is right, you can easily prevent lifter’s shoulders. Symptoms of the condition include loss of shoulder's internal rotation and a relative weakness of the lower trapezius muscle. 

What is causing the nagging pain in the shoulders?

The shoulder region encompasses several soft tissues and multiple joints all working together. It cannot always have smooth movements in coordination with the rest of the body while lifting weights. It is a matter of movement; there will be trouble if movement is not crisp and clean. In a nutshell, pain in the shoulders is caused because of incorrect shoulder mobility and movement patterns. 

The cure

Most cases of lifter’s shoulders resolve quickly with proper rest, applying ice packs, and anti-inflammatory medication. Sometimes, it may be something more complex. Corrective exercises can also restore external rotation of shoulders.

Half kneeling rotation 

Kneel with your left knee on the floor and the right knee upwards. Hold a dowel across your shoulder just like you do while performing back squat. Turn your shoulders to the right and as far you can without pain. Hold this position for 2-3 seconds before you get back to the starting position. Do 10 reps. This exercise will help in returning external rotation to your right shoulder. For left shoulder external rotation loss, perform the same steps on the left side. 

Supported pec stretch

This exercise is for the stiff pecs (an internal rotator in the shoulders). Pushing exercises such as bench press can make pecs stiff and give you shoulder pain. Stretch your arms overhead in a ‘Y’ shape and bend knees at about 90 degrees with your feet flat on the floor. Hold a light dumbbell in your right hand and now steer both knees to the left as far as you are comfortable. Hold the position and take 5 deep breaths. Repeat the move 5 times. 

If the above corrective exercises don’t make improvements in 2 weeks, seek medical advice. 

Image: Shutterstock


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