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If you have shoulder pain when you lift weights or simply lift your arms up over your head, then you’ll want to watch this video. Here I’m going to show you how to fix shoulder pain and impingement forever by attacking the issue at the root cause and giving you the right rotator cuff exercises and progressions to do to get this to go away once and for all.
As always, it starts with a look into the anatomy of the shoulder. First, the source of many problems when it comes to shoulder pain is the supraspinatus tendon. The supraspinatus muscle is one of the muscles of the rotator cuff. It originates on the upper surface of the scapula and feeds through a small space in the shoulder joint to attach to the upper humerus.
Given the limited room inside the joint already because of ligaments, bursa and an already tight shoulder capsule from limited shoulder mobility, the supraspinatus tendon can become pinched when the arm is lifted overhead. This is sometimes the direct cause of the inflammation that one gets and the shoulder tendonitis that one experiences that keeps them from performing upper body exercises without pain.
There is a second important cause of this pain however, that left untreated, will continue to cause a recurrence of the pain without ever getting to the bottom of the real issue. This is the fact that the supraspinatus tendon in the shoulder (as well as the biceps tendon for that matter) have an orientation that leads to them bending around the bone they attach to when the arm is moved into certain positions.
This cause a compression stress on the underside of the tendon. When this occurs, the breakdown of the tendon and resulting inflammation is being caused directly by the inability of the tendon to accommodate to the normal stresses of the joint. Sure, the joint itself becomes even more crowded and unable to safely house the tendon as additional inflammation and swelling mount up. Just doing things to strengthen the rotator cuff in this case to try and open up more room in the joint by positioning the humerus in a more biomechanically safe position isn’t enough.
Your training and rotator cuff exercises have to introduce an element of accommodating the shoulder joint to the stresses that the tendon is ill equipped to handle at this point. The way to do that is pretty simple. You need to use the right exercises, and more importantly, the right progression of exercises to push just as much as the tendon is capable of handling at this point.
We use a banded external rotation exercise and something we call a sword raise to address this.
First thing you want to do with either movement is aim to perform isometric sets. Simply hold the arm in the midrange position and aim to do so for 10 seconds for 5-10 reps. 3-5 sets is enough to get the job done. Ideally, you would save 3-5 days a week to perform this quick but effective routine.
From there, you would increase to a concentric external rotation exercise as able. Same rules apply to the number of sets and days per week that you’d be doing this. Reps could be in the 12-15 range per set.
Continue to work your way up to the stress that you are able to handle without pain.
From there you would introduce a small eccentric stress by adding a step away action. Gradually increase this stress by taking a larger step away and then finally, get to a ballistic or plyometric stress on the tendon by incorporating a small jump out. Increasingly, the tendon will accommodate to the compression stress it incurs, and needs to be able to handle, but only as your body is capable of handling it. Instead of rushing into this and risking further aggravation of symptoms. Do it at this gradual pace and you will be able to fix your shoulder pain once and for all.
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