Weight Lifting Shoulder Injuries


Athletes such as weightlifters and bodybuilders must contend with injuries. Because of the stress that is placed on the joint while weightlifting, shoulder injuries are especially common.


  • The shoulder consists of four joints: the scapulothoracic joint, the acromioclavicular joint, the sternoclavicular joint and the glenohumerol joint. Twenty muscles help these joints move the shoulder. Weakness in these muscles can cause shoulder pain and affect the functional capabilities of the shoulder.


  • One of the main functions of the shoulder is joint stability. The ligaments in the shoulder are more lax than other joints because of the wide range of motion of the joint. This puts an extreme amount of stress on the shoulder's ligaments, such as the rotator cuff. Another primary function of the shoulder is concentric and eccentric muscle movements. It is concentric force that pushes the weight up during weightlifting.


  • The most common types of shoulder injuries caused by weightlifting are as follows.

    Rotator cuff impingement: This is caused by chronic instability in the shoulder joint. The symptoms of this condition are pain, weakness and numbness.

    Rotator cuff strain: This is a common overuse injury. The symptoms that accompany this injury are pain and tenderness in the anterior or lateral part of the shoulder, decreased range of motion and an increase in pain during the night.

    Shoulder bursitis: This is a condition that is caused by inflammation in the shoulder joint. Pain and point tenderness are symptoms of bursitis.


  • When you feel shoulder pain, do not continue to lift weights. Doing so can exacerbate the problem. Joint rest is an important part of recovering from a shoulder injury. While lifting weights, avoid movements such as upright rows and lateral raises. It is important to warm up the shoulder muscles before attempting to lift heavy weights. Avoid exercises that place an extremely heavy load on the rotator cuff. It is important to perform strengthening exercises for the rotator cuff to avoid injury because of weakness.


  • If you are experiencing shoulder pain during or after weightlifting, it is a warning sign--ignoring it can make the problem worse. Initial treatment for most types of shoulder injuries are rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications. If these do not relieve pain or if symptoms become more severe, it might be necessary to seek medical treatment.

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