This is my stab at summing up all of the amazing things I've learned from exrx forum members, and the resources they point to, combined with what my chiropractor and trainer have taught me.Shoulder Basics
The shoulder is actually 4 joints, with 20 muscles controlling it. It's complicated.
Because the shoulder moves on multiple planes through wide ranges of motion, the tendons are looser than in other joints, and some of the muscles are there only to keep it stable under load. These muscles have odd latin names like "Infraspinatus" and "Teres Minor". If they are not kept strong the shoulder cannot stay properly in place when doing things like Bench Press -- even if your bench technique is perfect.
Source: http://www.protraineronline.com/exercis ... -injuries/It's Personal
Everybody is different, lifter A will get an injury earlier than lifter B, while lifter C never seems to get injured and says, "What's wrong with those two jokers?" Until lifter C gets injured.Caution When Leaving Beginner Programs
Personally I lifted on the Stronglifts program for 5 months and found it wonderful, and the author Mehdi is entertaining and informative.
But the big problem with this and other programs is that you are given no preparation whatsoever for real shoulder health -- for some simply doing barbell rows is all they need, for others, no such luck. Once you find out barbell rows are not enough, it's too late (or so it was for me).
Once you graduate from a beginner program, you may become interested in acccessory exercises to improve your main lifts and completely miss the fact that the most important accessories are the least glamorous, the ones that keep your shoulders healthy so you can enjoy setting PR's on the bench. More on those exercises below.Bad or No Brakes
This analogy is courtesy of our own Kenny Croxdale, who points out that when one muscle, like the front shoulder, is a lot stronger than its counterpart, the rear shoulder, it is like having a souped up car with no brakes. The faster the engine, the better the brakes have to be, so all antagonist/agonist pairs have to be trained together.
Kenny's post: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=8623&start=4Do You Have a Rotator Cuff Problem?
Notice we are not saying "injury", but "problem". If your shoulder is not overall strong and balanced, you can have referred pain that will make it difficult, if you are not informed, to understand what is really going on.
Check out this pretty good link, it describes the symptoms well. If you don't want to click on it, it says:
- 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.
The crazy part is a problem in the rear of your shoulder produces pain in the front of your shoulder and your bicep. If you don't know that, you can waste a lot of time blundering through the internet looking for remedies to front shoulder and bicep injuries.
Source: http://stronglifts.com/how-to-deal-with ... aspinatus/What Does the Doctor Say?
Our own resident MD, JungleDoc, gives this advice, which I call the JungleDoctrine: "Don't get paranoid over every ache and pain." That means that weird pain you got that one time, in your calf, for like five minutes, that never happened again? That is not an injury. Never will be, don't worry about it.
But, its a different thing if you notice a specific pain after a specific exercise, which seems to gradually get worse after each session for that exercise. Anything that starts small and gets worse after a particular lift is a developing injury. By the time you are having what doctors call "pain at rest", it hurts whether you do the lift or not, its time to find a doctor who knows something about lifting and can take some guesswork out of things for you. EDIT:
This section was added a couple days after the original postPrevention and Cure
...are the same thing. Here are a few exercises that work wonders. If you do not have a problem, do these now and forever. If you do have a problem, skip benching for awhile and do these now and forever:
- Face Pulls
- Reverse Flyes
- External Rotations (I like the lying variation)
You also have to stretch your pecs, particularly your pec minor, this is a very easy stretch to do: http://www.exrx.net/Stretches/Pectorali ... Towel.htmlSoft Tissue Work
One of the easiest symptoms to eliminate is the tingling or numbness in your fingertips or arm, which can be done by getting a lacrosse ball and rolling it around on your back shoulder area, either against a wall or the floor. If you find a spot that hurts like ******, go to it, it will feel much better afterward, and can help with the numbness.Press Like a Powerlifter Pull Like A Bodybuilder
If you don't know this you need to know this. Large compound movements like Press, Bench, Squat and Deadlift can be done for low reps like 5x5, 3x5 or 5/3/1 and progress can be expected (assuming many other things like accessory work, diet, sleep and so forth).
Not so for pulling motions like rows (db or bb), chins, or the three listed above. These break down into two categories.
Category 1 lifts, like rows, can be done with small reps to build a foundation of strength, but must also be done with volume.
Category 2 lifts, like the three listed above, do not benefit from the small reps, it's all volume with these.
For all of them, for the volume work, you want to start with very light weight, like weights you don't want your he-man buddies to see you with, and do really high reps, as many as 30, until you are totally confident you can feel the correct muscles doing the work. Only when you are totally confident of this should you raise the weights, and probably never use a weight that you can't do 15 reps with.
To wit: my trainer, a lifelong powerlifter, says that for lying dumbbell external rotations they never go over 5 pounds!Cheating on Pulling Motions
It is extremely easy to cheat on pulling motions. On the face pull for example you can jerk the weight into motion with your biceps and traps, and your rear delts and rotators will get very little exercise, and you may not even know it! That is why we start with embarrasingly light weights and do many reps, to learn the feel in our back shoulders.When Do I Bench Again?
Who knows? Certainly not before you've been doing lots and lots of the exercises above and can tense your rear delts (at very least) at will. Then they have to get much stronger, and the symptoms may begin to diminish somewhat. Sooner or later you can try EMPTY BAR benching, if it leaves you moaning afterward, it was too soon, sorry. Don't load the bar back up to your original weight! You'll get back to it, and even farther now that your shoulders are better balanced, but it won't happen overnight.Mike Robertson Knows
Here is a video by Mike Robertson that talks about shoulders in generalhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QPMSriohyEEric Cressey Knows
A great source on shoulders in general is Eric Cressey, he has this three part series:
Part 1: http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_art ... ers_part_i
Part 2: http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_art ... rs_part_ii
Part 3: http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_art ... s_part_iii
There is a LOT in those articles, but it boils down to some things you may be doing anyway, and hopefully only a few new moves