View Full Version : Jerk Pain

Richard Bendekovic
06-20-2012, 11:28 AM
I started concentrating on Olympic lifts through Catalyst a little over two months ago. My jerk has always been a mess and during the first six weeks whenever I jerked it turned into a push press for the last three inches of extension (as it was pre-Catalyst). I learned more about jerk technique (through your site and DVD) and worked on jerk drills and then the last couple times jerks have come up in the workout I feel a pain in the front of my right shoulder joint. The weird part is I feel nothing when I press, for example on Monday I did push press 150x5x3 no problem other than that is about my max for 5. Today I tried a 135 jerk and felt the pain at extension. It actually feels more like a nerve than pain because there is no lingering pain or soreness after the lift, it just feels like the shoulder is going to give during the lift. I do the Catalyst dynamic warm up, plus shoulder distractions with bar and band, plus a bunch of warm-up sets and movements, and have experienced this only once about six months ago while doing power jerks but it was before my olympic concentration and heavy jerks did not come up again for some time. I have 46 year old joints and know this just may be the breaks but I am hoping this is something someone has experience with and can advise. If not I am screwed because I am not going to a Dr. for this, I will just go real light on jerks until this works out. Thanks.

Matt Morris
06-20-2012, 05:27 PM
Hi Richard,

First off, I'm not a doctor, nor did I stay at a holiday in recently. However, my gut instinct is that you might be shrugging your shoulders up in your jerk and pushing them down during your press. That shrugged position (where you're neck disappears) might give you issues if you've got tight scalenes or other stuff going on. Beyond that, I'd go see a real doctor.

Can you post a video of your jerk, push press, and press?

Good luck!

Richard Bendekovic
06-21-2012, 03:52 AM
Thanks Matt, and the last thing I want to hear is from a Dr. on this, JK all you doctors, but it is not serious enough for a Dr. visit yet and since I can do almost everything else I will find a work-around. Also, I was hoping someone in the forum would say, "the dynamic nature of the jerk, vice the press, is what is causing the pain and that it is an indication that you are finally performing the lift correctly and you shoulders are not yet conditioned to the unique nature of the jerk, keep at it and it will pass."(HAH!!! keep dreaming) Anyway, I am going to look for the shrugging you describe and see if that is the trouble causer. I posted a couple C&J on or about 6-16-2012 on a thread titled, "C&J Help Please." Appreciate you looking at those disasters but as you will see in both jerks my extension stops about three inches short and I press it out, I actually performed a third C&J that day at 175 but since it was more of the same I did not post it. In none of those lifts did I experience the pain, but the next two times out I did. But only with jerks and not during warm-up sets. Thanks again.

Greg Everett
06-21-2012, 01:25 PM
Richard -

Consider what Matt said. Also, this issue seems to appear for people who are tight in the lats, triceps and the other stuff that attaches to the upper arm from underneath. During a press, those muscles can relax appropriately to allow you to move properly; during a jerk, they tighten up and prevent the shoulder from moving properly.

Work on stretching the pecs, lats, tris, etc. and do plenty of light pressing and pressing behind the neck as warm-up for your jerks.

Richard Bendekovic
06-22-2012, 12:30 AM
Thanks, tightness in those areas is a problem for me for sure, and I believe contributes to my poor front rack. I have started working on better flexibility for front rack position so hopefully it working on that will help improve this shoulder issue. Will give pecs, lats, tris, shoulders extra attention during flexibility work and warm-up. Thanks again.

Matt Morris
06-24-2012, 05:48 PM
I just looked at the first C/J video you posted. The first thing I notice is the bar path looks like its pretty far in front of you. Per Greg, "aim for the back of your neck when Jerking." As you start to drive, you should move your head back so the bar can go straight up, and should never be in front of your base of support. Fix that and see if you have any more pain.

Also, it does look like you are shrugging. You sort of do the turtle shell thing when you jerk. Retract your shoulder blades into the girdle and keep them there throughout the movement. You can practice this during the press and spend a bit of time at the top with your shoulders down to ingrain this position.

Third, do all the mobility stuff that Greg said. You'll be better off in more ways than you can imagine by loosening that stuff up.

Best of luck!

PS. where are you lifting at?

Richard Bendekovic
06-25-2012, 12:45 PM
Thanks Matt, did presses tonight and had some trouble keeping shoulder bases retracted will work on it. Any particular jerk drills you recommend for this as well as fixing the bar path. Your question about where I am lifting, if you mean where am I in the video- in my garage, where geographically-Madrid, Spain.

Greg Everett
06-25-2012, 01:24 PM
Try presses and push presses from behind the neck - that will allow you to start w the same scapular retraction you want to keep overhead and can help you get a better feel for it.

Michael Abbruzzese
06-26-2012, 06:14 PM
I'm a novice myself, so take this with a grain of salt. I had the same issues with pain in my shoulder with the jerk. Myofascial release of all those muscles they were talking about with a lacrosse ball or, my personal favorite, a field hockey ball. the pain is excruciating while doing it but it eases up after a while and results come quickly. Do it daily, before each workout and especially before warming up for jerks. Look into getting the Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, its an awesome reference.

Richard Bendekovic
06-26-2012, 09:02 PM
Thanks Mike, I had been slacking off (time contraints) on the pre lifting foam rolling as recommended by Greg. Yesterday called for 55-65% jerks and felt pretting good but I still felt like I was holding back on the drive but concentrated on proper bar path, not shrugging during the jerk. Tonight will be a better test with heavy jerks.

Richard Bendekovic
06-28-2012, 03:16 AM
In an attempt to make you all regret ever helping, I'll bore you with a status. The extra stretching, rolling, and bar path/technique cues seemed to help with the pain. I still could not pop up weights (155/165) like I feel/know I should have. Its gotta be in my head (although I know the pain part was real). My thought is to be patient and stay the course with all that has been offered but also looking for drills to assist in confidence and bar path and possibly some cues to help with shoulder blade retraction (got Greg's drills for that in earlier post). The "turtle back," as someone called it, is a result of me pushing shoulders forward to rack the bar-retract the shoulder blades and rack goes away. Unfortunately could not video last night but I will have video of next jerk session and will seek your help once again. Thanks all!

Matt Morris
06-28-2012, 05:12 AM
Hey Richard,

Chances are you developed the tightness/motor patterns that cause this issue over years. I wouldn't expect it to be completely fixed after a couple of workouts. That said, take comfort in knowing that this will get dramatically better if you are good about practice and foam rolling etc over the next 2-4 weeks.

Best of luck and keep the videos coming!

Greg Everett
06-29-2012, 12:22 PM
The extra stretching, rolling, and bar path/technique cues seemed to help with the pain.

Good, stick with it.

but also looking for drills to assist in confidence and bar path and possibly some cues to help with shoulder blade retraction (got Greg's drills for that in earlier post).

Jerks and push presses from behind the neck, push presses bnk in the split position.

The "turtle back," as someone called it, is a result of me pushing shoulders forward to rack the bar-retract the shoulder blades and rack goes away.

You do need to have your shoulder blades protracted and slightly elevated in the rack position - but you need to do it without hunching the thoracic spine. Then you need to retract as you're driving under into the overhead position.

Richard Bendekovic
06-29-2012, 01:46 PM
Shoulder pain aside (still there but not so bad) these are ugly. I can't seem to jerk at all. I am so frustrated I looked up my old lifts in my log. It was during a year of CrossFit on Feb. 2, 2012, I C&J 70kgx2, 75x2, 80x2, 90kgx1. I recall the 80 and 90 being a versions of a power jerk that turned to a press the last couple inches. A few weeks later in a CF competition I C&J 84kg and failed twice on 88kg.

Now this:

70kg failed jerk-a weight I pushed pressed for 3 sets of 5 on Monday

80kg fail not sure why i even tried

90Kg Clean only

Any and all technique advice appreciated plus some psychology because although I realize that 2 1/2 months of Olympic lift concentration and less CF (much less) doesn't guarantee PRs. And I realize those past lifts aren't real benchmarks because of the poor form, but it just doesn't add up that 70kg-80kg feels like going to crush me and collapse my shoulders.

Steve Pan
06-29-2012, 03:20 PM
Hey even though you aren't hitting the weights you would like to on this given day, you are making huge improvements. Look back at your 6/12/12 video and compare to these most recent ones. Your turnover is WAY better, you are able to get those elbows up and around better than before. Your rack position and jerk rack position are improved also. In this latest video you are able to support that weight on the shoulder.

For the jerk in 70kg and 80kg, you are having some trouble in the dip and drive that is leaving that bar out forward and you aren't able to get a full drive into the bar. Part of the problem is that you are dipping a little to far and by going to far down you are beginning to squat instead of dip and drive. That squatting position is tilting you forward and also causing some problems finishing the drive.

To remedy this I would suggest some jerk dip squats where you focus on keeping that dip and drive straight and with slightly less depth. Another exercise that will help would be a pause jerk, where you hold the bottom of the dip and really focus on driving straight over the neck. Before you initiate your jerk I would suggest pulling the face back to get it out of the way and to remind you to drive the bar straight up. (This video has some pause jerks in it: www.catalystathletics.com/media/video/video.php?videoID=274)

For the pause jerks make sure you keep those shoulders up (to keep the bar from pinching your artery) and stay conscious as they will sit on you and make you feel like you are about to pass out so take caution!

Overall I can see you are making improvements so I would say to stick with the stretching and mobility work and keep working at it. Part of adjusting your mobility will be gaining strength in the new positions as they improve, it will always be a process but the pay out is rewarding.


Richard Bendekovic
06-30-2012, 08:06 AM
Thanks a ton Steve, I must admit the cleans felt better, that is why I included the 90kg clean only. I actually went to 95kg on the clean and felt pretty good. The time spent on mobility and stretching is vital I understand, but it does eat up a bunch of time. Meanwhile, the exercises and drills to fix my jerk are starting to add up, so far segment pulls, halting DL, muscle and tall cleans, BTN presses & jerks, pause jerks, jerk dip squats. Any ideas on how they should be worked into a training routine along with one of your training cycles? Not looking for a short cut, I can make the time I just want to be as efficient as possible. Also, as you can see in the video and through my previous posts I am not all that young anymore, so just adding on and adding on takes it toll quickly if not done intelligently (and I am not intelligent). Thanks again Steve for the advice and encouragement.

Steve Pan
07-03-2012, 02:17 PM
I would say to keep up with the stretching every day and spread out the assistance exercises over the week. I know there are a ton of exercises but possibly focusing on a few of them for a while as the shoulders improve and keeping the ones that you feel are helping the most and rotating in other ones for a change up. I would say that the segment pulls and muscle cleans for warm ups (keeping them light) and some of the BTN and split work would be the best to keep up with.

Richard Bendekovic
07-04-2012, 01:20 PM
Thanks Steve, I have to see a Doc about this shoulder pain. Yesterday morning felt sharp pain deep in shoulder joint again during jerk of 50 kilos. Stopped immediately and did some jerk technique work with bar and conditioning and pain went away. Then last night push pressed 90 kilos for 3 reps no pain and 3rd rep went up easy. (please don't ask why I was jerking in AM and push press in PM, in short a scheduling F-up and promise to my son) Today called for "Max for day," jerk. Instead i got out the Cataylst video and went through jerk progressions with bar only or no bar. In doing behind the neck jerks I went with 30 kilos and felt great, felt fluid on technique. Moved the drill to front for jerks and felt that specific shoulder joint pain. A friend threw out possiblity of a cartilage tear in form of a flap, causing pain in certain ROM and not others. If not that he suspects, just like you guys, it is mobility issue that, just like you all said, will take some time to work out. Anyway, during the time I am trying to get my technique and tightness eliminated as a cause I figure, contrary to what I said earlier, can't hurt to get an MRI. So enough with problem for a while 'cause it ain't getting fixed anytime soon, but I suck at snatch too and so far can't blame it on some mystery pain and will be seeking help.

Richard Bendekovic
07-10-2012, 12:53 PM
MRI on shoulder showed a slight tear of supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendons and muscle tear (don't recall the muscle name). The tendon tears, it seems, are the trouble causers. The Dr. was a GP and said it did not look like something that required surgery but in order to keep weightlifting I should see a specialist. Anyway, in case this specialist turns out to be like Foreman's Dr. Bonequads, is anyone familiar with this and what I can expect or should expect to hear tomorrow when I see this ortho Dr.?

Matt Morris
07-10-2012, 02:29 PM
I had a partial tear of my supraspinatus recently (6 weeks ago). I let it rest for2 weeks, then started doing LYTP's w/ light weight (from 0 to 2.5kg). I found a few interesting articles on shoulder rehab from eric cressey, and even on the forum here from Stephen Low and Garrett Smith. After 4 weeks, I was pressing w/ just my hand. after 5 weeks I was doing sets w/ an empty bar. Today I pressed 60kg. Always going pain free (per eric cressey, don't do any provacative movements as part of your rehab). and remember (I can't recall who I'm quoting), "don't go to complete fatigue, and pain comes AFTER fatigue."

Also remember, that taking it slow these next 3 months or so will save you a ton of time if it means you can fix it w/o surgery, so its probably not going to be worth pushing yourself like you are in a rocky movie.

Also, read the article on the Performance menu about supplementation for rehab. I found adding vitamins K1, k2, and A to the mix seemed to help.


Best of luck!

Matt Morris
07-10-2012, 02:32 PM
PS, I'm still able to do cleans, squats and deadlifts/pulls. That means you can still train hard. I slowly worked in PERFECT pull downs and Perfect rows (contracting my lower traps/serratus first before starting to pull w/ my arms and pulling all the way to my chest).

Richard Bendekovic
07-14-2012, 02:49 AM
Matt, Thanks and I am going to look up the Cressey articles. I took the MRI to an ortho Dr. who confirmed the damage is acute, not chronic, and the tendon tears will most likely repair themselves with three weeks off. After that he advised start back with exercises that do not put my shoulders in abduction (i think that is the term but i know what he meant) and nothing overhead for another 3-6 weeks. However, I need to find a plan to rehab and get back to lifting without letting this happen again and I need to form this plan myself because the specialist basically told me to forget about Olympic lifting at my age. And seeking a second opinion or training rehab regime is difficult here due to the language. I am pretty fluent in Spanish but when it gets technical it is tough and I am not going to pay a ton of money and only get 70% of what I am being told. So off to Cressey or anything else the fine and knowledgeable folks of Catalyst can offer.