Dealing With Shoulder Pain

October 16 2013

I've been dealing with shoulder pain around my right AC joint for several months. Fortunately it's starting to feel better and the chronic pain I've been dealing with is slowly going away. It's been a long road though and I was almost certain I was going to need some type of surgery to fix whatever it was that was causing me pain.

I went to see my family doctor a couple of times. He sent me for an x-ray and an ultrasound which came back showing no signs of major trauma. Then I went to see a shoulder specialist who poked and prodded and dug his fingers in and around my shoulder capsule and assured me that there was no serious damage, just a lot of inflammation and irritation around the AC joint.

Finally, I went to see a Chinese massage therapist who said I had bad Qi (chi) or bad blood in my shoulder. He treated me with several sessions of VERY deep tissue massage and then performed a traditional Chinese medicinal practice called "cupping" which uses heat and suction to draw blood up to the surface of the skin. I'm not going to lie.. the cupping technique was one of the most uncomfortable, painful experiences of my life!! But after a few days my shoulder started to feel better and has continued to get better.

I've also been reading a lot about the biomechanics of the shoulder joint over the past few months. Here are a few really good articles that I've come across.

T-Nation - Shoulder Savers: Part 1
T-Nation - My Shoulder Hurts: The Finest Whine 
Breaking Muscle - How to Save Your Shoulders

I've learned there are 3 different types of AC joints you can be born with. Type 1 allows full range of motion. Type 2 (which I think I have) also allows full range of motion but has less subacromial space so there is a higher risk of impingement. And Type 3 has even less space and only allows for partial range of motion so exercises like the overhead press and bench press are out.

Assuming that I am a type 2... I have removed any exercises or movements from my programming that cause pain or discomfort or may lead to inflammation and impingement. The worst exercises for me are ring dips, muscle-ups, barbell bench press and hand stand push-ups.

I've also been focusing a ton on shoulder mobility, longer dynamic warm-ups and isolation exercises to strengthen the muscles around my shoulder girdle and upper back. Here are several exercises that I've been doing that have been incredibly beneficial to my recovery.

Sky Diver Chest Raise 
Standing Wall Angels
Band Pull Aparts
Sumo Squat Reverse Fly

I've had to stubbornly realize these past few months that I am not a young buck anymore. I turned 36 this year and really need to start training smarter, not harder because I'm not able to train with the same care free, recklessness that I did in my twenties! 

I need to spend a bit more time warming up and foam rolling. I need to focus on near perfect technique and I need to get enough rest between training sessions to ensure I stay healthy and mobile so I can keep training hard and getting stronger for many more years to come!!
Article by (Train Online)  |  October 16 2013

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