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Arien Malec
08-31-2008, 04:31 PM
I've been experiencing, for a couple of months now, a pain in my right shoulder that only happens on jerks.

My shoulder is pain free through a full range of motion -- no pain when I do shoulder dislocates, I can grab my fingers both ways behind my back (although there is a slight ache when my right hand is the one reaching up), and I do not experience pain on presses, push presses, bench presses, etc.

It's only the rapid movement that triggers the pain, and only under weight (if I punch up, for instance, no pain).

The pain is intense, but not a sharp injury-type pain -- feels more like an inflammation-type pain, but again, it shows up intensely only at the jerk.

When I experienced it, I laid off jerking and overhead lifting for a couple of weeks (did bench pressing instead to save the shoulders -- somewhat ironic), but the pain returned after a week or so after going back to weightlifting.

Any clues as to what might be causing this?

And assuming I need to take a layoff from jerks for a while, what would be a good substitute? Pressing (or should I give my shoulders a total rest?) and 1/4 squat jumps?

Derek Maffett
08-31-2008, 06:23 PM
Test each shoulder for flexibility. Is the right any less flexible? Arm circles, etc... I'm guessing will be more difficult for that arm.

Steven Low
08-31-2008, 07:51 PM
Get a picture of where (circle area).

Any other exercises hurt it or just this one?

Arien Malec
08-31-2008, 08:07 PM
Test each shoulder for flexibility. Is the right any less flexible? Arm circles, etc... I'm guessing will be more difficult for that arm.

No apparent difference. Perhaps if someone observed me do a mobility test, but there doesn't seem to be any limitations on the right arm.

As I wrote above, the only apparent difference is that, if I put my arm behind my back and push the hand up towards my head, I've got less range of motion on right (where it hurts).

Get a picture of where (circle area).

Any other exercises hurt it or just this one?

I'll do some jerks for science to make sure, by my memory is that the pain originates at the joint and goes up the arm behind the posterior deltoid (under the red area here:

http://www.exrx.net/Muscles/DeltoidPosterior.html)

I think I get the same or similar pain if I shove someone or something, but I don't do that enough to be sure. Again, even the push press doesn't do the same thing. It's something about the aggression of the movement that does it.

Arien Malec
08-31-2008, 08:27 PM
One more either clue or red herring. I injured the same shoulder about 3 years ago doing lying dumbell triceps extensions (when I didn't know any better), and when I started doing dumbell presses, I had to start at 10# per arm, limited by the right arm. Now, when I do barbell presses at limit, my right arm is typically the limit on lifts (to the extent that the barbell is tilted towards the right, as that arm struggles to push the bar up).

I also have more trouble on lockout on that arm (which may be because of the injury or lack of lockout may have exacerbated it).

Also, the pain snuck up on me -- that is, no obvious trauma on one lift, more of a gradual ouch that is now a barrier to my lifting.

Steven Low
08-31-2008, 08:58 PM
Check your internal and external rotation strength.

Lie on your side and internally rotate with a weight then do the opposite side with external rotation.. heaviest possible for 5 reps. If you don't know WTF this is then check out EXRX's nice shoulder articulation chart and/or google side lying external/internal rotation.

I want to see if there's a significant disparity.

Derek Maffett
08-31-2008, 10:05 PM
No apparent difference. Perhaps if someone observed me do a mobility test, but there doesn't seem to be any limitations on the right arm.

As I wrote above, the only apparent difference is that, if I put my arm behind my back and push the hand up towards my head, I've got less range of motion on right (where it hurts).

I asked because I've had some left shoulder pain recently, aggravated seemingly by rounded shoulder olympic lifts (I know better now). The pain would also affect me at the beginning of the jerk. Turned out that my left shoulder was less flexible (perhaps due to gradual injury), but I've been managing it with extra warm-up time and mobility work for the left shoulder... I think the pain in the jerk was a result of the somewhat compressed, close-to-the-face press along with not coming back out of the way of the barbell enough. The other shoulder could handle it just fine, but after changing the points mentioned, I managed to set a PR in the split jerk without much trouble.

Your case sounds different and very "Steven's department."

Leo Soubbotine
09-01-2008, 03:17 AM
My shoulders used to wear out quickly from doing a bunch of jerks so for a while I added DB and KB overhead carries - one handed and two handed, and more Handstands. After a few weeks of that my shoulders were feeling a ton better and the jerk actually went up.

Arien Malec
09-01-2008, 10:32 AM
Check your internal and external rotation strength.

....

I want to see if there's a significant disparity.

Consistent both right and left:

Internal 32.5 lbs, external 12.5 lbs, each for 5 reps

Arien Malec
09-01-2008, 11:55 AM
My shoulders used to wear out quickly from doing a bunch of jerks so for a while I added DB and KB overhead carries - one handed and two handed, and more Handstands. After a few weeks of that my shoulders were feeling a ton better and the jerk actually went up.

Good advice -- I did kb overhead holds today -- feels good.

Steven Low
09-01-2008, 02:40 PM
Add some more horizontal pulling strength work, and external rotation strength work (only do side lying external rotations and some cuban presses).

I strongly suspect that your IR/ER imbalance and weak posterior shoulder area are causing your pain. When you jerk if your shoulder isn't balanced, the instability of your muscles to balance the weight right away can cause pain just like any other related imbalances.

Arien Malec
09-01-2008, 02:52 PM
Add some more horizontal pulling strength work, and external rotation strength work (only do side lying external rotations and some cuban presses).

I strongly suspect that your IR/ER imbalance and weak posterior shoulder area are causing your pain. When you jerk if your shoulder isn't balanced, the instability of your muscles to balance the weight right away can cause pain just like any other related imbalances.

Horizontal pulling = rows?

I'll add the side external rotations, cuban presses, and overhead holds and cut out jerks. Should I be looking for a point where my external and internal rotation strength is roughly equal?

Thanks to you, Leo and Derek for the help and advice.

Steven Low
09-01-2008, 09:49 PM
Horizontal pulling = rows?

I'll add the side external rotations, cuban presses, and overhead holds and cut out jerks. Should I be looking for a point where my external and internal rotation strength is roughly equal?

Thanks to you, Leo and Derek for the help and advice.
Horizontal pulling = C2 rowing (power work), pendlay rows, bent over rows, front lever pullups, inverted pullups (weighted), etc.

I'd say go for equal. All things considered, internal rotation should be a bit stronger.

Make sure you have good posture.

Gregory L. Johnson
09-03-2008, 04:03 PM
I've been experiencing, for a couple of months now, a pain in my right shoulder that only happens on jerks.



What you described is the same thing I experience after first couple of weeks of the weightlifting portion of CA WOD. However it effected both of my shoulders. My problem eventually went away after about a month. I don't know if any of my other activities contributed to the speed of my recovery compared to yours. I continued the CA WOD excluding any Jerks. Before all my workouts I did DROM drills and some light weight kettlebell swings, snatches, and presses. Additionally I was swimming every night 300 to 400 meters, mostly breast-stroke and sidestroke.

Arien Malec
09-10-2008, 07:19 PM
Did my first jerks today after implementing the program. No pain! I noticed that my shoulder doesn't lock in nicely on the right -- probably a result of the asymetric weakness.

I worked my external rotations, 10#, starting 3x10, going to 3x12, then upping the weight to 12.5, progressing nicely. Adding KB overhead carries, no cuban presses yet.

Gregory -- I suspect it's the KB work that saved you, although the swimming should help as well with the shoulder. KB work is awesome -- I don't do it enough.

Will update with progress.

Philip Stablein
09-25-2008, 06:20 AM
Gregory -- I suspect it's the KB work that saved you, although the swimming should help as well with the shoulder. KB work is awesome -- I don't do it enough.


Breaststroke is definitely horizontal pulling work. Swimmers who specialize in one stroke too strongly tend to get imbalances, particularly in the shoulders! In this case though, sticking to one stroke panned out well.

(sorry about the days late reply)

Arien Malec
09-28-2008, 08:24 AM
So another quick update:

I took my external rotations from 3 sets of 10 at 10# to 3x10 at 20#.

I've been able to bring jerks up to twice weekly with no pain. My next cycle will focus on jerks, and I've very optimistic.

Not as much handstand work as I wanted -- Leo's PR makes me want to mix in some of that as well.

Thanks again, Steven especially.

Steven Low
09-28-2008, 09:02 AM
Good to hear.

Make sure you keep it up as it's easy to just feel you're better and then drop the exercise and then it comes back in a couple weeks.

Power snatches are great for external rotation if you were ever thinking about including some of those in your work (although if your snatch technique isn't that great then you may want to avoid..).