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  1. #1
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    Advice needed for rotator cuff injury

    As I mentioned in my recovery thread recently, my rotator cuff is really sore on my left shoulder, and while it was mild enough to continue working out for a few weeks initially, it's kind of gotten to where I feel I should just entirely avoid many exercises, as it feels like I'm taxing those tendons and muscles too much to even attempt to do them. If I was just a normal guy working out for pleasure, I wouldn't be too stressed over having to curtail my workout for a few weeks while it heals, but being that I am using weight training as a cornerstone to my hormonal recovery, I'm pretty devastated at the prospect of having to potentially take a lot of time off...
    So, my questions are:

    Any tips of dealing with this, as far as other exercises or modifications to upper body exercises that allow you to avoid stressing the rotator cuff?

    Should I just entirely stop the workouts that involve this muscle, or should I go down in weight and still do the exercises at a more moderate level?

    Do you think taking a week or two off from most of my upper body workouts while waiting for this to heal will have a big negative impact on my hormonal profile?

    Any other insights into this particular issue that some of you who may be more advanced and or seasoned weight lifters can give me? Maybe ways to avoid this problem in the first place, or to avoid it from recurring? Anything at all would be greatly appreciated.
    I feel like most of what I see online is centered around asurgery options and/or steroid shots, which I dont want to fool with in my current delicate state of health.
    Thanks in advance...

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by lastnoirking87 View Post
    As I mentioned in my recovery thread recently, my rotator cuff is really sore on my left shoulder, and while it was mild enough to continue working out for a few weeks initially, it's kind of gotten to where I feel I should just entirely avoid many exercises, as it feels like I'm taxing those tendons and muscles too much to even attempt to do them. If I was just a normal guy working out for pleasure, I wouldn't be too stressed over having to curtail my workout for a few weeks while it heals, but being that I am using weight training as a cornerstone to my hormonal recovery, I'm pretty devastated at the prospect of having to potentially take a lot of time off...
    So, my questions are:

    Any tips of dealing with this, as far as other exercises or modifications to upper body exercises that allow you to avoid stressing the rotator cuff?

    Should I just entirely stop the workouts that involve this muscle, or should I go down in weight and still do the exercises at a more moderate level?

    Do you think taking a week or two off from most of my upper body workouts while waiting for this to heal will have a big negative impact on my hormonal profile?

    Any other insights into this particular issue that some of you who may be more advanced and or seasoned weight lifters can give me? Maybe ways to avoid this problem in the first place, or to avoid it from recurring? Anything at all would be greatly appreciated.
    I feel like most of what I see online is centered around asurgery options and/or steroid shots, which I dont want to fool with in my current delicate state of health.
    Thanks in advance...
    Being that I graduate PT school in May, I guess this is within my wheelhouse. Did anything in particular cause a sudden onset of pain in your shoulder? RTC pain tends to be a dull ache that can become sharp with exercises like overhead reaching, bench press, etc. It also tends to be more prominent at night.
    At the very minimum, i'd suggest avoiding overhead lifting, bench press, and focusing on shoulder isometrics, leg training, and scapular stabilization stuff for the time being. As far as the hormone and health stuff, I doubt that taking a month off is going to affect you that much. What will affect you though is if you do have a partial tear and you worsen it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DKnighten View Post
    Being that I graduate PT school in May, I guess this is within my wheelhouse. Did anything in particular cause a sudden onset of pain in your shoulder? RTC pain tends to be a dull ache that can become sharp with exercises like overhead reaching, bench press, etc. It also tends to be more prominent at night.
    At the very minimum, i'd suggest avoiding overhead lifting, bench press, and focusing on shoulder isometrics, leg training, and scapular stabilization stuff for the time being. As far as the hormone and health stuff, I doubt that taking a month off is going to affect you that much. What will affect you though is if you do have a partial tear and you worsen it.
    Thanks for your response, and it's great to hear from someone who is working in this field, or at least going to be in the future...
    I unfortunately cannot narrow down the cause to any particular movement or moment. I think its *possible* that my version of "shoulder shrugs" may have had something to do with it, because it's an exercise that allows for a whole.lot of weight. My version consists of using a canle machine, however, and shrugging a cale that is at ankle level upwards at a diagonal angle...I dont know for sure, but it's the only exercise that i sort of "made up" myself (at least this variation using the cable machine) and I WAS shrugging a lot of weight. I went with the cable machine variation because I find it hard to pile enough free weights on dumbbells to do this exercise with dumbbells properly...

    Anyway, something else that might be of interest or help to elucidate things for you...

    Pushups and benching and even bent over dumbbell rows really seem to aggravate the pain. The "ac joint" I believe calit's called, is where my pain is mostly located, and it's at that point at the top of my shoulder that feels like a bruise if I press.down on it.

    Today I woke up, after a couple weeks of taking it easy (but not entirely resting it), and thought I might be back to.normal, or maybe close, so what did my dumb ass do but go hop up on the pull up bar and do like 40 pull ups and some dips, and now it feels like I done fucked it all up again.

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    ....and, while I did cut out the overhead presses, I'm 5hinking I should also cut out the lateral shoulder raises as well. Unfortunately, though, if I am.gojng to really truly give this area.a full rest, it would SEEM that I should basically stop ALL chest/back/shoulders exercises, as even bent over rows and other back exercises seem to aggravate it
    ....so is a month the general time frame within which a minor tear would usually heal?

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    Update: I've just done 4 physical mobility tests to discern, and I believe it is actually AC joint dysfunction that I have, and not rotator cuff. As I said earlier, there is the distinct sensation of a bruise right on my AC joint, but I wasnt really aware that this was a potential injury spot in and of itself, so hopefully that helps give you a clearer picture of things. From what I can tell, it does at least seem that ac joint problems are much less problematic long term, and maybe even have less healing time involved....would still appreciate any additional insights though.

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    Look up an AC joint shear test. Get someone to do it on you. If it hurts like shit, then it's probably inflammation of the AC joint, just like you're saying. You probably had an acromion type susceptible to pain/impingement in that area. I'd modify the shrugs and shoulder work you're doing in the meantime. For bench, try to lower the weight and have your arms closer together. Most people go way too heavy on barbell bench as it is. For shrugs, try doing them with dumbbells at your sides, or even a barbell or even smith machine behind your back with lighter weight. It hits your traps more directly anyway and takes some of the stress off your shoulders.

    AC joint issues are typically way better news than a RTC tear. I'd try incorporating some rotator cuff exercises with some mini bands a few times a week as well. wall walks, external rotation, and anything with a cable or band that your shoulder blade is going down and back, like towards your back pocket. - think "stick em up" posture like you're being robbed.

    Typically, RTC tears don't heal on their own, but can be managed without surgery unless it's pretty bad. If you're having these issues a month or 2 down the road or it gets worse, I'd get it looked at.

    in short: avoid pullups, dips, overhead pressing, bench press, fly's and heavy shrugs for now. Do lighter weights with more control and contraction - time under tension is what builds muscle anyway. Get a set of mini loop bands 10" off amazon and start up a light rotator cuff routine. Look up AC joint pain provocation tests and see if that is likely what you're dealing with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lastnoirking87 View Post
    ....and, while I did cut out the overhead presses, I'm 5hinking I should also cut out the lateral shoulder raises as well. Unfortunately, though, if I am.gojng to really truly give this area.a full rest, it would SEEM that I should basically stop ALL chest/back/shoulders exercises, as even bent over rows and other back exercises seem to aggravate it
    ....so is a month the general time frame within which a minor tear would usually heal?
    light weight avoiding painful motions for now, avoiding heavy barbell lifts, and doing more leg work for a month or so. If it doesn't improve, i'd get it checked out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DKnighten View Post
    light weight avoiding painful motions for now, avoiding heavy barbell lifts, and doing more leg work for a month or so. If it doesn't improve, i'd get it checked out.
    I'm gonna do that, as much as I hate having to stay away from my normal workout routine that long...I will aim to do 2 leg days a week so as to keep the hormonal benefits of exercise going.
    But yeah, I'm also sure its AC joint now, which had me somewhat relieved, as it doesnt seem to be as much of a kiss of doom as rotator cuff problems...thanks for your input.

  9. #9
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    Just to update, for anyone else who may be suffering shoulder pain while lifting and happens to find this post..

    As stated before, after doing a few physical movement tests I found online, it has become clear that my problem us with the AC joint, not my rotator cuff.

    To remedy, I have adjusted my sleeping habits (no more sleeping on the injured side). I am training myself to either sleep on my back, or on the other side, but with the addition of pillows to keep my knees from touching and my shoulders from curving inward.

    As far as lifting, I have moved down in weight on bench press, and find that I ca now do that exercise with no pain. I had to stop a few exercises ththaththat really caused me ththe most pain for the time being, but have experimented and found that many just require that I move down in weight for now. Pullups and chin ups and all such variations, along with overhead pressing exercises are totally off limits for now.

    By making these adjustments, I have actually been feeling a little improvement in my shoulder every day, despite continuing to lift, so dont freak out like I did right away. You most likely can continue to workout if the right adjustments are made...

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