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Shoulder Pain in the gym: A Success Story

Many people come to me for shoulder pain when pressing in the gym. Bench Press, Overhead Press, Shoulder Press, Clean & Jerk, you name it. What a lot of people don’t know is just how effective physio can be to help reduce the pain and get you back to normal training. I’ve seen many people who dealt with shoulder pain for months or years to get massive improvements in just a few sessions with me. Sometimes it’s a question of load management and modifying training volume to help calm things down. Sometimes it’s Subacromial Sensitivity Syndrome (SAS—formerly known as shoulder impingement which was—in hindsight—a factually incorrect way of naming the syndrome because shoulder impingement does not cause pain) which requires finding ways to move painfree and help things calm down before returning to normal training. Sometimes its nervous system sensitivity and I need to help you find a directional preference of repetitive movement to help calm the “alarm system”.

Regardless of the cause, it my job to figure it out, and create a plan of care with you to get you back to normal training as soon as possible.

A recent success story comes to mind. S. is an avid gym athlete. S. has been a trainer for over 20 years and has been working out for even longer than that—suffice to say, S. knows his way around resistance training and then some. He had been dealing with what felt like weakness and tightness in the right pec, shoulder, neck and shoulder blade for over a year. It had been affecting his training to the point where he said he was only using about 30% of the load he knew he could use on his upper body training days. Anytime he would push too hard in the gym, that whole area would ache for hours or even days after the workout.

He decided to come to see me about it and I determined that the issue was not so much related to over training as he’d been under training for a year because of it, it wasn’t some particular structural issue since there was know real injury mechanism and the pain was to broad and moved around too much to be any specific muscle or joint. What it turned out to be was and over sensitivity of the nervous system; the fire alarm was going off when he was steaming veggies in the kitchen so to speak.

Within one session, we were able to find a directional preference and a repetitive neck/upper back movement he could do that would quickly and drastically change his symptoms and immediately allow him to press and pull more weight. Only 2-3 weeks later, he has now told me that he is able to do about 70-80% of what he thinks he should be able to do, the constant aching and tightness that had been there for a year is gone, and he feels he is continuing to improve in the right direction, all without needing to see me even a second time.

This isn’t to make some claim that within one visit I can find the source of your problem and your cure. Everyone is different, and some people need more time than others. But the point of sharing this story was to help you understand that sometimes things you’ve been dealing with for months or even years that no one seems to be able to help you with can have a simple solution. All it requires a visit to the right office (especially one that has a full gym) where someone who understands what you’re going through and has helped others like you can hear you out and help create a plan with you that will actually work.

If you’ve been dealing with shoulder pain or discomfort that just wont go away no matter what you try, come see me.

If you are an amateur or professional gym athlete, bodybuilder, powerlifter, crossfit athlete, weightlifter, etc. and you are dealing with shoulder pain that is affecting your training, come see a physiotherapist that has had the same pain doing the same things and has helped himself and many others like you.

Jordan Octeau is a licensed Physiotherapist, Personal Trainer, Powerlifting Coach and amateur Powerlifter with 9 years of experience in the industry. His goal is to keep barbell athletes out of pain and under the bar.

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