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Shoulder Pain From Pullups

by
author image Shannon Marks
Shannon Marks started her journalism career in 1994. She was a reporter at the "Beachcomber" in Rehoboth Beach, Del., and contributed to "Philadelphia Weekly." Marks also served as a research editor, reporter and contributing writer at lifestyle, travel and entertainment magazines in New York City. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from Temple University.
Shoulder Pain From Pullups
Learn to do pullups correctly to prevent injury. Photo Credit FtLaudGirl/iStock/Getty Images

The most common symptom of a shoulder injury is pain, followed by numbing, tingling, stiffness or the sensation of your joint locking. If you have a stress or overuse injury from doing pullups, avoid lifting your arms above your head, and eliminate heavy lifting until the pain dissipates. If your discomfort persists for a week or more, you should have your shoulder examined by a doctor.

Pullups

Pullups are a type of multi-joint, strength-training exercise that uses your back and arm muscles to lift your body, using the full resistance of your body weight. While doing pullups -- unlike chinups, which are similar -- your hands should grip the horizontal bar facing away from your body. If you do pullups correctly and don’t do more than you can handle, you should be able to avoid injury. Overdoing it, however, can cause a repetitive stress injury, tendon tear or another type of painful injury.

Repetitive Stress Injury

A repetitive stress injury refers to musculoskeletal pain linked to physical activity. This type of injury is not typically caused by acute trauma, but rather by cumulative damage. Symptoms include pain, tenderness, weakness and loss of function. There are multiple types of stress injuries. Bursitis occurs when the arm joint-cushioning bursa becomes inflamed and painful. A stress fracture is a tiny crack in the surface of the bone caused by repetitive overloading. Tendinitis refers to tearing and inflammation in the tissues that connect your muscles to bones. This condition is caused by overusing muscles.

Rotator Cuff

If you experience pain in the front or outside of your shoulder, it could be from a rotator cuff tear or injury. The tendon located inside the rotator cuff is one of the most commonly injured tendons. The rotator cuff is the protective covering over the shoulder socket and arm bone formed by a group of muscles and tendons. The acromion tendon, located between two bones, is easily pinched, leading to inflammation. This type of injury is often caused by repetitive arm activities and lifting, especially when both are done by lifting your arms above your head. It’s estimated that 50 percent of rotator cuff injuries heal on their own.

Treatment

If your pain persists for more than a few days and you’ve avoided heavy lifting and strenuous activity, your doctor may perform X-rays and blood tests to see if there is another cause for your pain. Arthritis, which occurs naturally with age, can cause shoulder pain. Osteoarthritis is a type of joint disease that causes cartilage surrounding the shoulder joint to degenerate. While some types of injuries should be treated with controlled range-of-motion exercises, other problems could require splinting your shoulder to keep it immobile.

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