It seems like shoulder pain is the most common injury related topic lately. Between rotator cuff injuries during benching and poor posture, shoulder injuries are becoming more and more common. Experience being the best teacher, I thought everyone could learn from my mistakes and how I cured my shoulder pain. The first few years of working out was a “typical bro experience” for me. Everyday I would do a lot of pressing, curls, and quarter squats. I didn’t pay too much attention about treating the body as a whole. You could say all I cared about was working the lifts that everyone compared each other with (typically bench and curls). Over the years surfing the Web and exploring Youtube, I had heard countless times “structural integrity”. I understood the meaning of the topic, but not necessarily how to achieve it. After a few months (to a year) of working out I started getting shoulder pains. I was worried that I had injured something, but it was not extreme pain, just some aggravation.
One day I was working out and a coach walked into the weight room and started lifting as well. We started chatting and I had brought up my shoulder pain. First thing he says is “when is your back day?”. I just kind of looked at him like….”there isn’t an upper back movement that we compete in”. At that time he suggested adding an upper back day or add more upper back work on my pressing days. A few weeks later I could tell a big difference. Not only did my shoulders start feeling better, but I had also began to improve better on my bench and squats. My shoulder improved, but the shoulder pain wasn’t fully gone. I spend. I was pretty confused because I added ample amount of back work. MY FIRST BACK WORKOUT ROUTINE
I looked into the issue some and found my problem. I was doing pretty much enough upper back work, but it was not focusing on the rear deltoids (back of the shoulder that helps hold the shoulder girdle stable). I changed my routine up some to add more focus on the upper back muscles rather than upper back strength. Instead of doing stuff like 5 sets of 5 repetitions, I started doing 3-5 sets of 10-20 repetitions. MY IMPROVED BACK WORKOUT ROUTINE My shoulders felt even better! I could honestly say they’ve felt amazing compared to before….but the quest for shoulder health wasn’t over. I had built the muscle up, but my rear deltoids was still lagging compared to the front deltoids (front of my shoulder was bigger and was always tightened up).
A year or so later I decided that I wanted to bring out my rear deltoids. Being a strength athlete that wanted a developed back (not just a strong one), I wanted to find someone that taught how to develop a strong/aesthetic back for athletes. I came across a video of Joe Defranco. I didn’t know much about him, but reading a lot of TNATION forums and articles I heard a lot about his methods and workouts. I decided to give a shot what he had to offer. He changed my perception of upper back work. I couldn’t give a flying f*** about the weight I used anymore. I cared only about tension. So what did I do? For a whole year all I did was band pull aparts for my upper back. I will fo pull-ups/latpulldowns for lats and band pull aparts for upper back. MY BACK WORKOUT YESTERDAY Today, I can tell you I HAVE ZERO SHOULDER PAIN!
So what does this have to do with helping you cure your shoulder pain? Let’s look at what I learned in my journey so far:
1) work your back as much as your pressing
2) focus on your mid-back, not just your lats
3) focus on contraction, not the weight
Now whichever step you are at, I would suggest covering all three in order to fix any shoulder pain you have. First start by actually doing back work. People who do not workout seem to neglect them because they don’t workout their front of the shoulder….but really each day you raise your arms for any reason, you are further developing an imbalance in your shoulder girdle. The more you slouch over when sitting, you are again further developing the imbalance. Secondly, if you do workout your back, focus more on your mid-back than your lats for awhile. People tend to neglect their mid-back because big lats give off the “big wide back” look. Last but not least, focus on contracting the muscle and breaking it down enough to grow. Work the muscle which stabilizes your shoulder.
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