Shoulder Pain From Weightlifting

Bodybuilder working out
Having a spotter, especially with overhead weight lifting exercises, can help prevent shoulder injuries. (Image: Minerva Studio/iStock/Getty Images)

If you experience should pain when lifting weights or after a workout, it could be the result of strained muscles, bursitis, tendinitis or something more serious, such as an injury to your rotator cuff or another part of the shoulder joint. Understanding the source of your pain will help determine whether you should stop weightlifting for a while and seek treatment to regain the healthy use of your shoulders.

Tendinitis and Bursitis

Tendinitis is the inflammation of the tendons, which are the tissues that connect muscle to bone. Dr. Peter Gott, a syndicated columnist and author of “Live Longer, Live Better” notes that tendinitis is especially common with repetitive actions in the joints, such as those associated with weightlifting or tennis. Bursitis is the inflammation of a bursa, a fluid-filled sac between bones and muscles, and is often the result of overuse. Tenderness and pain, particularly when your arm is raised, should prompt a visit to the doctor for an evaluation. If the problem appears to be a “flare-up” of tendinitis or bursitis, you will likely be told to rest the shoulder and apply ice. Chronic tendinitis or bursitis may require a corticosteroid injection or even a surgical intervention.

Rotator Cuff Tears

A rotator cuff injury is a common problem facing baseball pitchers and other athletes. The rotator cuff is actually a network of muscles and tendons covering the top bones of the shoulder joint and is essential for lifting your arm. But unlike the knee ligament injuries that plague football running backs, for example, rotator cuff tears are not usually the result of a single incident. Instead, rotator cuff damage tends to occur over a long period of time and results from repetitive overhead motions with the arms. Weightlifting is a leading culprit. An MRI or physical exam can often diagnose the problem. Rest and special physical therapy and joint-strengthening exercises can help, though more serious tears might require surgery.

Recognizing Pain

When you lift weights, you will feel some pain. However, that pain is temporary and should end soon after you stop a particular set of exercises. The pain should also be confined to the muscle, not the joints. Pain in the shoulder joint feels different from shoulder muscle strains you might feel when finishing an especially tough set of lifts. Learn to recognize the difference. If you experience pain in your shoulders from lifting weights, stop and rest your shoulders a few days. If the pain doesn’t subside or returns as soon as you try to use the shoulder joint, seek medical attention.

Preventing Shoulder Injuries

To prevent some of the above-mentioned conditions, one of the most important things you can do is maintain proper form when lifting weights, particularly when you’re lifting above your shoulders. One of the keys to preserving safe form is lifting a manageable amount of weight or at least having a spotter standing by to help if you start to struggle with a heavy weight. You might want to consider using a military press machine rather than free weights, which are harder to control. Ask a trainer or an experienced weightlifter for tips on proper technique.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.