Shoulder injuries are very common among fitness enthusiasts and weight lifters. Stupidly enough, my injury didn't occur anywhere near a gym. It involved a bar fight where people were messing with my little brother. I dislocated my shoulder forward, tearing tissue in the front and rear of the rotator cuff. This was devastating for me because I knew it would never be the same agian. For most people, they don't have such extreme shoulder injuries, most are just a nagging pain that doesn't seem to go away.This is usually caused by the scapula not moving properly due to injury, bad posture, knots in your back and or poor training technique. Here are the 8 things that I did and do personally to rehab my shoulder, and keep away from new or reoccurring injury.
Take time off- Time of from the muscle group causing you pain is crucial. could be 2 weeks or 6 months. All depends on the severity of the injury. You will know when it is time to slowly start to train the body part again. For me, It was about 2 months of no shoulder work. I then jumped right back into training too quickly, and injured it again doing 100lb overhead dumbell presses and was out another 4 months after that. Don't be like me. ease back into it.
Proper warm up no matter what- Warming up before training is very important. Warming up the shoulders for all upper body days is paramount. I like to spend 10 minutes using 5-10lb dumbells to do external rotations, overhead rotations, shoulder presses, bench presses, bent over rear delt flys. I then move to face pulls, followed by stretching the chest out very thoroughly (I do this one throughout the whole workout)
Pull more than you Push- The majority of the gym society does more chest work than back work. This leads to a weak back, and a tight chest. That combination rolls the shoulders forward into an uncomfortable position that alters funcionality. This can create impingement in the front deltoid. Training back twice as often as chest can help even out your physique and take less pressure of your shoulders. stretching your chest out often will help with your shoulder position as well.
Get tissue work- Getting work done on my chest and back, such as deep tissue massages, self massage balls and cupping therapy made a huge difference for me. I have tons of tight muscles and knots in my back and chest. Getting these partially relieved weekly has made a big difference on my shoulder issues. If you have never tried cupping before, I did a blog post on how to use cupping therapy to help problem areas. Check that out here
Switch to dumbell exercises- Switching to dumbell exercises can help because it allows your wrists to turn naturally through the movement. Barbell exercises can put the shoulder joint in uncomfortable positions. If certain barbell exercises are giving you pain this is a great option to try.
Strengthen external rotators- Strengthening your external rotators will help with your shoulder stability, more specifically in your rotator cuff. here are things i did after my upper body workouts when I felt like I had something left in the tank:
band external rotations, band internal rotations, overhead band dislocations, scarecrows, face pulls, and reverse flys.
Leave the ego at home- Know your limits. Enter the gym each day willing to listen to your body and train accordingly. If it hurts, don't do it. Unless its that good kind of hurt when you know you are making gains :) Make sure you are constantly increasing and improving but if you have a bad day, shake it off, do some rehab work, and move on. Shoulder injuries are nothing to take lightly, they deserve tons of attention and care. My recommendation is see a doctor but avoid surgery at all costs, be mindful and rehab yourself if possible!