Most people, at some point in their lives, will experience some form of joint pain. I’m experiencing a mile stiffness and pain in my finger joints from typing right now, but others – particularly as they get older – will have severe joint problems which may require corrective surgery.
In bodybuilding, probably the most common type of injury or discomfort experienced is shoulder pain. I would be surprised if anyone who lifts weights hasn’t experienced some degree of shoulder pain or discomfort, during, or after lifting at some point or other. I guess the occasional joint pain goes with the territory.
It’s when the pain is persistent and recurring when you have to take it seriously and evaluate your lifting style and treatment options. You simply can’t be crazy and continue hammering away at exercises which are causing you pain, because you are heading for disability. I’ve read many stories of woe and regret from people who didn’t listen to their bodies, and now wish they had.
In bodybuilding the shoulders take one hell of a hammering. If you think about it, every time we pick up a weight, we are putting our shoulders under pressure. And when we work our shoulders directly, the pressure is even more intense.
Shoulder pain which materializes over time rather than a sudden incident is usually down to inflammation within the joint and rotator cuff. I strongly suggest that if you experience any kind of shoulder discomfort, you lay off training the shoulders for a week or so, and instead, perform some thorough stretching exercises.
I recall one occasion when I had a recurring pain in my shoulder. Nothing too severe, but it hurt whenever I raised it, and the pain was accompanied a not-very nice clicking sound and ‘bump’.
Anyway, all I did was lay off of any kind of shoulder training for a week, and instead, worked on stretching. Let me tell you – the stretching hurt, but, it was controlled. My way of thinking was, by pushing beyond the pain slightly, without going too far, I’m going to help strengthen and make more supple the rotator cuff, and improve the pain free movement. It worked – within a week, the pain had gone, and it’s not been back since.
I also think that because the deltoid is a 3 headed muscle, and by the natural order of things we tend to hit the front deltoids more than any other, we can sometimes cause an imbalance within the muscle which pulls it slightly off kilter – and this is what can cause the bumping, clicking, grinding and pain we experience. This can be addressed by working the opposing muscles and performing deep stretching exercises, as I did.
The most important thing is, never think you don’t have options. This is bodybuilding! There are variations and alternatives for every single exercise which will probably work just as well. It’s all about avoiding the pain for longevity. After all, when all is said and done, we’re doing this for our physical wellbeing – and if we really screw our shoulders up, we may not be able to do any kind of shoulder exercises again.