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Shoulder impingement syndrome – prevention and the cure

By July 27, 2010January 13th, 20177 Comments

One of the top 3, if not THE top injury to be found in any weights area of a gym, is a shoulder impingement

The most common of these would have to be shoulder impingement syndrome.

If you’ve ever felt pain in your shoulder when pressing overhead, you may very well suffer from shoulder impingement syndrome.

Lifters often get such an injury, and then ignore it thinking it’ll go away, or do exercises, which exacerbate the problem further. Bad move slick.

Shoulder Impingement Symptoms

  • Aching in the shoulder which can radiate down the arm
  • Sharp acute pain on sudden overhead movements
  • Difficulty sleeping due to a dull ache on the affected side

It took me 5 trips to the sports physio therapy and about 9 months of correcting my form until the pain was completely gone. Needless to say, it was a complete pain in the proverbial.

My own shoulder impingement syndrome story

I myself, have suffered an impingement in the past. It was not pretty-Having let the pain go on for too long, I suffered severe inflammation, which continued for months.

How I did the damage to my shoulder

I remember being half way through my 3rd set of incline-dumb bell bench-presses when I felt a sharp ‘jolt’ of pain through my left shoulder. I rubbed it a little, and then continued working out as if nothing had happened.

It was of course, a lot more serious than what I had first thought. What had led me to the pain was years and years of incorrect form.

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Muscles are easily impinged between the acromion process and the head of the humerus when the arm is lifted away from the body

Managing shoulder impingement syndrome

As I found out, the best approach to managing the pain associated with the rotator cuff tendinitis was to treat the condition initially, then find the cause of the problem and manage that.

The cure

  • Technique improvement (the most important here!)
  • Remedial massage
  • Anti inflammatory medications
  • Applied heat to the region every 20mins for 2-3 hours.
  • Corrective exercises to reduce the load on the traps (physio consultation needed here).
  • Alternative therapies (such as fire cupping).


Depending on the severity of the damage done, technique improvement is the best way to prevent such an injury from happening again.

The key piece of advice I was given was to completely take the traps out of the movement on every exercise, from shoulder-press right up to chin-ups and bench-press. You’d be surprised how much you use your traps to lift weight on all sorts of exercises.

Further resources

A book by Mike Westerdal recently came out called ‘Fix My Shoulder Pain’.

Check that out here >

Disclaimer: The material contained on this page is intended as a guide only and does not constitute advice or treatment. For further information on shoulder impingement syndrome, please see your qualified health professional.

Clint Nielsen

Author Clint Nielsen

Clint is a dad and husband trying to stay in shape. He's also a highly opinionated fitness enthusiast and author of Reveal The Steel. Follow him on: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google+

More posts by Clint Nielsen

Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Cassie says:

    Been there! pain in the!
    Still feel it too since it was only recently that it came to my attention. The worst part is trying to correct your form. I feel 10 x weaker and can’t lift as much weight but I’m still trying to fix the problem.

  • Laura says:

    OMGeee – I have just realised that my boyfriend has this. Going to get him to read this article ASAP. Thanks so much – this is REALLY helpful.

  • Hey Clint,

    Yeah…I feel your pain brother! Although my shoulder injury was caused by a pretty bad motorcycle accident, not a training injury.

    Still, the injury is permanent and affects the way I train. For example, I can no longer do any type of flat bench presses using a barbell. I can do some DB incline presses using light weights, and overhead DB shoulder presses…but only if I find the right angle that doesn’t cause me pain.

    I have learned to work in a specific “plane of motion” for each exercise that involves my injured shoulder. The basic key is…if it causes me pain, I don’t do it!

    FYI…if you are looking for a cool device to help rehab your shoulder, increase your range of motion and strengthen your rotater cuff, check out this post on my personal blog:

    This is NOT an affiliate link and I don’t get ANY compensation from this product. This is just someting that I use regularly that I truly believe in and I spread the word to people I meet that have shoulder injuries.

    Your site looks awesome and I’m looking forward to reading many more articles!

    Best wishes,

    ~ Pete

  • I just want to tell you that I’m newbie to blogs and truly loved you’re blog. Probably I’m planning to bookmark your website . You surely come with impressive articles. Thanks for revealing your website page.

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