Rule of Thumb
I went to the doctor about 10 days ago, and the most upsetting thing he told me was that my issue was not likely due to a singular traumatic event like benching too heavy with bad form on a single day -- he says it was likely building over a long time.Empathy
This upsets me because I thought I new what I was doing. Thought it was as simple as bench + row and press + chin. Now it could be that I am doing something terribly wrong on bench, and for that I'm going for some training at the new powerlifting gym that opened recently down the street, but I just don't think so.
I have empathy and some understanding of you problem. Like you, I had a shoulder probelm pop up a couple of years ago.
Like you, I thought that I was doing a good job of training...insuring shoulder health, so to speak.
So I'm wondering if there is a simple foundation for shoulder health that I can put into practice, something more advanced than "Bench + row and Press + chin and that's it" but which does not require me to navigate complex multi-variable decision trees and learn a lot of latin. I'm not asking for it to be dumbed down, I'm asking for the beginning.Experimentation
I spent most of the year experimenting with exercises that I felt like might improve my condition.
Baseball Pitchers Careers
One of the most interesting sports seminars that I attended had a PhD in Physical Therapy discuss baseball pitchers. Researchers looked at why pitchers like Roger Clemmons and Nolan Ryan were still playing in their 40s; while some pitchers threw their arm out in their late twenties and early thirties.
One of the reason for the length of a baseball pitchers career was the strength or the lack strength of their...
External Rotator Cuff
The external rotator cuff plays a major role in shoulder injuries. The stronger the external rotator cuff muscles, the less likely a pitcher is to have shoulder injuries.
The weaker the external rotator cuff muscles with respect to the internal rotator cuff muscles, the more likely they are to throw their arm out.
Pitchers and Other Athletes
The emphasis on external rotator cuff strength applies to other athetes that heavily use the anterior deltoid.
That means the best insurance policy is to make the strength of your external rotator cuff muscles is equal to the interiror rotator cuff muscles.
Rows and Pulls For The External Rotator Cuff
Like you, I believe that I got enough work for my external rotator cuff from pulling movements...that makes sense.
Evidently, that wasn't true for me. I found that I needed more external rotator cuff work, along with some overhead pressing.
Overhead Cable Pressing
One of the problem from constantly doing the bench press is tight shoulders. That is why Olympic Lifters limit bench press training.
What I found is that overhead cable pressing helped with my shoulder rehab by stretching my pec. For me that really helped improve my shoulder condition.
Must of my shoulder rehab work is based on...
http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_art ... er_shocker
Pull Aparts and Halos
Two of the best exercise that I found were:
1) Band Pull Aparts (in DeFrancisco's article)
2) Kettlebell Halos
1) I've never done a specific rear-delt exercise. If I've got the equipment for face pulls but not rear delt flyes, does it really matter? Or do I need to get really specific here and do the "right" exercise.Be Specific Rear Delt Work
My suggestion is to put in some specific rear delt work, external rotator exercises.
2) Recently Oscar mentioned "Push like a powerlifter, pull like a bodybuilder". I had never heard that before. Is that considered strong enough advice that an intermediate can follow it as if it were (always) true and get more complicated later? For me this means converting rows from 5/3/1 to a volume exercise, and perhaps dropping weighted chins for higher volume as well -- so this question is important to me.
I agree with Oscar's assessment. Chris Thibaudeau had a great series on this in one of his training videos.
Thibaudeau believes pulling muscles respond better to high volume, high rep, longer "Time Under Tension" movements. I agree.
With that said, I would not completely eliminate low rep strength pulling movements. However, I would cut back on them in favor or the high volume...training.
3) Is there a rule of thumb for pull vs. push for a guy like me in a "better safe than sorry" position who wants to avoid future injuries? Or might be as simple as making sure I'm doing at least 3 upper body motions/week with weights that allow 4x12 or better? (or pick 3x10 or whatever).
My "Rule of Thumb" believe is to make sure you do some specific external rotator cuff work in your training. Agnoist/Antagonist Muscle Strength
One of the reasons muscle injuries occur is due to overtraining the agonist and undertraining th antagoinist muscles.
What ends up happening is that the agonist overload the antagonist muscle. One that happens an injury occurs. Hamstring Example:
Hamstring injuries usually occur because the quads are dramatically stronger. The quads end up producing more force than the hamstrings can handle.
What end up happening is a pulled or torn hamstring. Driving A Car With NO or BAD Brakes
Increasing the agonist muscle strength and NOT the antagonist muslce strength is like driving a car fast but has NO brakes or bad brakes.
What end up happening is at some point, you go to fast and crash into something because you cannot stop in time. Pain
As with any injury, I found that initially my shoulders hurt a little when performing the exercises. Over time, it should be less and less and you shoulder should get better...but it not an overnight thing.
You have to play with it and then evaluate whar is working for you and what isn't.
I also found taking some glucosamine helped jump start my shoulder recovery.