Shoulder Pain While Lifting Weights – Rotator Cuff Injury

This week I had an athlete come to me who was in severe pain after lifting weights a few days before. He had been fine (or so he said at first) and then suddenly the pain was so bad he almost dropped the weights, and he hasn’t been able to lift his arm without pain ever since that day, and he’s also having problems sleeping because of the pain.

There are so many muscles that either originate or insert into the shoulder joint, or that have an impact on your shoulder blade, that it’s a challenge to narrow it down to just one for this blog. However, I’ll just mention what I found in David as it was the key for his relief.

In the back of your shoulder, on your shoulder blade, is a muscle called infraspinatus. The infraspinatus originates on your shoulder blade and inserts into your rotator cuff and is one of the four rotator cuff muscles. Since many practitioners focus on just the four rotator cuff muscles (Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Monor, Subscapularis), they often miss the muscles that will impact the shoulder but are a distance from the shoulder, such as the pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi. That’s all topics for another blog post, but one that I’ll talk about this month since so many things we do during the summer will strain the shoulder.

Okay, back to David. When I pressed on his infraspinatus muscle he almost passed out, even with the slightest of pressure. After he started breathing again I explained to him that the good news is the infraspinatus is one of the easiest muscles to self-treat. It’s just a matter of taking a tennis ball and either leaning up against the wall or lying on the floor with the ball right on the “hot spot” on his shoulder blade.

Just the little bit that I did while I was explaining this to him made a huge difference. I gradually increased the pressure, which is what I suggest you do too, start lighter and go deeper, but don’t be moving around on the ball, just find the tender point and stay still.

By the end of 10 minutes David was able to lift his arm comfortably and I know that with a few self-treatment sessions he’ll be good to go back to the gym without any pain.

If you have pain, give it a try, it may be exactly what your shoulder needs.

Wishing you well,


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