Overcoming Shoulder Tendonitis

triumphant over shoulder injury

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Over the past 4 years, I’ve had shoulder tendinitis problems which has prohibited me from doing certain movements.

As some of you may know, tendinitis never really goes away and it has a way of flaring up with certain motions. I can attribute this condition to years of heavy, repetitive movements.

I guess you can say this is an unfortunate by product in my quest for building muscle and strength.

I’ve explained rotator cuff injuries in prior articles which you can read at:

Weight training and rotator cuffs

Tendinitis of the rotator cuff

Rotator cuff exercises

Once injured, as in the case with rotator cuff tendinitis, your shoulder / s are never really the same and the condition never fully heals. Rotator cuff injuries symptoms subside and will heal to a certain extent but the scarring will remain. Flare ups will occur with certain movements which causes a “relapse” to a persons original injury.

I’m sitting here now with a flare up because of certain movements I performed a couple of days ago. I had the bright idea to do two movements. The first movement was upright rows and the second was to jump rope. I haven’t performed upright rows for years but I was looking to mix up my shoulder routine and try something new. Bad idea. Upright rowing places a lot of stress on the shoulders and I should have know better.

I honestly thought I’d be safe with jump rope. However, this movement places a lot of repetitive stress on your front and side deltoids. I wasn’t prepared for that and after 5 sets of 100, I could tell my shoulder didn’t agree with it. I can generally tell when my shoulder flares up because there are pins and needles that go down the side of my shoulder. Damn, this means I’m out of action for about 3 to 4 days.

So, now I’m sitting here writing this article to help those of you who might be suffering from the same or similar injury. I’ll be the first to say that tendinitis is no fun. It sucks. However, you can certainly get back into moderate to heavy weight training with proper guidance. It takes time and patience and over time, you can get back into the swing of things at close to 100%.

However, there are certain things that will cause flare ups. I can’t say what these things are because we’re all different and each of us will have different movements that will cause it. For me, it’s unnatural movements such as press behind the neck, upright rowing, behind the back shrugs, bench press, and now, jump rope.

I know certain movements will cause flare ups. I stay away from those exercises at all costs because I know they will sideline me for up to a couple of days to a week. I’ve also come to realize that there are other ways that flare ups can occur. This one has taken me quite a while to figure out but I realized why my shoulder always seemed to be in constant pain.

First, I can blame my job. It’s actually the way I sit and type at my computer. Since I’m glued to my computer for most of the day, there is a constant amount stress on my shoulder. For the longest time, my shoulder would just ache after a long day at the computer. I attributed this to my weight training injury but I had no idea that the real culprit was my posture and body position at the computer.

Secondly, I enjoy playing guitar. Now, the usual way to play is to have the body of the guitar resting on the lap of your picking hand. So if you pick with your right hand, you will rest the body of the guitar on your right thigh. If you pick with your left hand, you rest the guitar on your left thigh. However, this means your picking arm has to reach back, while placing a constant amount of stress on your shoulder. Prior to my injury, I had no idea of the amount of stress placed on my shoulder but now, I definitely know better!

In the first situation, I actually went to a specialty medical store and purchased a thermoskin shoulder brace with an abductor for my underarm. This ensures my shoulder is stabilized while I type and the abductor provides additional support while I sit. After about a week of using this brace and abductor, I noticed an immediate improvement in my shoulder. No more pain!

Actually, I use two types of shoulder braces. The first is called Thermoskin and the second is called Cooper Care Lastrap. Both are great at supporting the shoulder and you can get these at any medical supplies store.

After 5 months, I noticed a huge difference with most of the pain residing. It’s amazing how you can overlook the little things.

In my second situation, I had to adjust the way I held the guitar. I used a classical posture where the body of the guitar is held between your legs as opposed to resting the guitar on your lap. By doing this, my picking hand is forced to move forward which lowers the position of my shoulder. This takes a lot of the stress from my shoulder. Again, no more pain.

Although our injuries may originate from exercising, it doesn’t necessarily mean that flare ups won’t occur outside of performing those exercises. Our everyday activities may be the real culprits in contributing to your ongoing discomfort. It’s up to us to figure out what those culprits are.

For me, it was trial and error but I now know what causes my shoulder flare ups. Besides this latest episode, which I should have known better, the thing about tendinitis, is just when you think your at 100% and confident, it can give you a painful reminder that it’s still there.

If you're plagued by an ongoing injury, you're going to have to take inventory of what it is you do on a daily basis and look at those movements, even subtle ones, to see if it contributes to your discomfort.

Okay, before you do that, please see a doctor and get a diagnosis - Very important. Also, physiotherapy helps so you may want to enlist the services of a qualified and experienced physiotherapist.

However, if you’ve done that and are still plagued with discomfort, take a hard look at your daily schedule and zero in on those movements that places stress on your injury. Sometimes, taking even the slightest amount of pressure off of an injured body part can make all the difference in the world.

Also, stay away from all exercise movements that directly contribute to aggravating your injury. I know, you may love doing the bench press but if it contributes to your injury, drop the exercise and take up another. Believe me, you can get the same results with another exercise while reducing the amount of aggravation placed on the injury.

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As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.

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