Shoulder Injuries From Lifting Weights

Lifting weights is not easy. Weightlifters meet with several kinds of injuries while lifting weights every day. One of the most common forms of injuries from weightlifting include the shoulder injuries. So, in this current article of ours we will talk about some of the shoulder injuries from lifting weights, and also know about some ways to deal with the injuries. Hope this would be a beneficial read for you

Shoulder Injuries From Lifting Weights

Shoulder Injuries and Lifting Weights:

Shoulder injuries can be experienced while lifting weights. There are various types of shoulder injuries which require a visit to the doctor and have appropriate diagnosis and follow up treatments. it is essential to know and understand the source of shoulder pain due to injury, know the exact location of the shoulder injury and then stop lifting weight till your condition is appropriately diagnosed and you have been treated. Some of the most common shoulder injuries from lifting weights include, shoulder strains, rotator cuff tear, tendonitis, bursitis etc. In the following arrays of our article we will know more about the shoulder injuries from lifting weights.

Common Shoulder Injuries Encountered When Lifting Weights:

Below we will take a look on some of the shoulder injuries from lifting weights.

#1. Frozen Shoulder:

One of the shoulder injuries from lifting weights can be frozen shoulders. Here the affected person cannot move his shoulders in any direction even without any pain. This is a condition where there is extreme stiffness in the shoulder. It is noted that about 2% of Americans, most often between age group of 40-60 years are affected by this condition. However, it can happen to anyone and at any age. There are evidences that patients with diabetes, heart diseases, Parkinson disease etc. are known to have frozen shoulders. Apart from this, it can happen that people, whose shoulders have been immobile for a period of time, are known to be affected with frozen shoulder. It is known that weightlifting can cause frozen shoulders.

#2. Rotator Cuff Injury Or Rotator Cuff Tear:

One more shoulder injury from lifting weights is rotator cuff injury or rotator cuff tear. Rotator cuff is a network of muscles and tendons covering the top bones of the shoulder joint and is mainly essential for lifting the arm. Rotator cuff tear tends to occur not as a result of a single incident but occur over a long period of time and it occurs with repetitive overhead motions with the arms. Weightlifting is one such reason for rotator cuff injury or rotator cuff tear. You may experience tenderness and soreness in the shoulder when using it, if there is a torn rotator cuff. Apart from this, you may also feel pain when pressure is applied on the shoulder.

#3. Overuse Shoulder Strains And Sprains:

There may be loss of flexibility in the shoulder with a sudden increase in activity while weightlifting; because it can put great stress on the shoulders. These injuries may be termed as strains and sprains of the shoulders. Overuse strains and sprains can happen in shoulders while lifting weights.

#4. Shoulder Instability/Shoulder Dislocation:

Shoulder instability or shoulder dislocation is something which happens when the top of the upper arm bone or the ball slips out of its socket. This is one of the most common shoulder injuries from lifting weights. Before the ball fully dislocates, the shoulder might feel like it is starting to go out of place. This is known as shoulder instability.

#5. Tendinitis:

One more common shoulder injury linked to lifting weights is tendinitis. Tendinitis is actually the inflammation of the tendons which are the tissues that connect muscle to bone. Tendinitis is mostly common with repetitive actions in the joints that occurs while weightlifting

#7. Bursitis:

Bursitis is the inflammation of a bursa, or a fluid-filled sac between the bones and the muscles. This is often caused due to overuse. Tenderness and pain, especially when you raise the arms; can be a sign of bursitis.

#8. AC Joint Injuries:

AC joint is actually located where the uppermost part of the shoulder blade (Acromion) meets the collarbone. When ligaments connecting the acromion and collarbone get torn, it leads to separated shoulder. There may be pain in the shoulder and you might also see a bump on top of the shoulder where it is separated.

How To Deal With Shoulder Injuries From Lifting Weights?

Here we will discuss on some of the ways to deal with shoulder injuries from lifting weights.

Recognizing Pain In Shoulder Injuries From Lifting Weights

It is first highly essential to recognize the pain in shoulder injuries from lifting weights. You may feel some pain while lifting weights. However, this may be temporary. The pain also should be confined to the muscles and not the joints. Pain in joint of the shoulder feels different from shoulder muscle strains while lifting weights. You must know the differences. You need to stop, rest and consult your doctor if you experience pain in your shoulders from lifting weights.

Treatments For Some Common Shoulder Injuries From Lifting Weights:

Here in this section we will talk about the treatments for the common shoulder injuries from lifting weights.

Treating frozen shoulder: Treating frozen shoulders may require taking NSAIDs, Cortisone shots etc. Physical therapy, stretching exercises etc. can also help you reduce any further injury due to frozen shoulder.

Treating Rotator cuff tear: Rotator cuff tear treatments depend on the severity of the injury. You may be suggested for RICE or rest, ice, compression and elevation; in case the tear is not a complete tear. Anti-inflammatory medication or corticosteroid injection may also be given for reducing pain during resting period. Though resting is an essential part of the treatment procedure for rotator cuff tear; it is essential that once pain has eased, you need to begin physical therapy so as to regain your normal shoulder movement. You may be advised for rotator cuff stretching and mobility exercises after few days of resting.

Treating overuse strains of shoulders: Treatments for overuse strains of shoulders begin with complete rest followed by NSAIDs and stretching exercises.

Treating dislocated shoulder: At times; dislocated shoulder can be pulled back to place by a medical professional. However, your doctor will provide you with a pain killer before sliding your upper arm bone gently back in to its socket. You may also require surgery so as to relocate the joint in some severe cases of shoulder dislocation.

Treating Tendinitis and Bursitis: Resting and applying ice on the affected area can help you in treating tendinitis and bursitis. However, in case of chronic tendinitis or burisitis; one may require a corticosteroid injection or even a surgical intervention.

Treating AC injury: For AC injury, there may be a requirement of wearing a sling so as to keep your shoulder still. You can also apply ice to the area for about 20 minutes every two hours so as to reduce swelling and pain. Acetaminophen or any nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as Ibuprofen can help in reducing pain

Basic Exercises To Deal With Shoulder Injuries From Lifting Weights:

You can perform these exercises four times in a week. However, do consult your doctor before beginning the exercises:

  1. Band External Rotation: For doing this you need to hold the end of a band with your elbow tight to your side. Keeping your arms bent at 90 degrees; you need to rotate your forearm away from your body. It is required that you do at least two sets of 10 reps each.
  2. Lying External Rotation: For doing this, you need a light dumbbell. You need to hold the dumbbell and lie on your other side. Next, bend your arm 90 degrees and rotate your forearm away from the floor. Doing 3 sets of 15 reps each will be effective in reducing shoulder injuries from lifting weights
  3. Blackburn: Lie face down with arms at your sides. Make sure you hold each of these positions for 5 seconds. Raise your arms out 90 degrees to make a “T” shape with your thumbs up. Turn thumbs down. Now, move arms in front of you to make a ‘Y”(Hold thumbs up and then down). Next, bend your elbows to make a “W” shape with your arms, thumbs up. This is one repetition. You need to do 6 such reps.

How to Prevent Shoulder Injuries From Lifting Weights?

In order to prevent shoulder injuries from lifting weights, one of the most important things one can do is maintain proper form while lifting weights; especially when he or she is lifting above shoulders.

  • Lifting a manageable amount of weight, having a spotter standing by so as to assist when necessary would help one to preserve safe form while lifting weights.
  • Apart from this, consider lifting military press machine rather than free weights; which are harder to control while weightlifting.
  • It is essential to take expert advises and tips by consulting an experienced weightlifter or a trainer on the same.
  • Keep elbows forward and chest up while lifting weights
  • Foot stance should be shoulder width apart.
  • Have slow and controlled movements
  • Breathe at the top
  • Take one minute of rest between the sets.


So, here we talked about some of the shoulder injuries from lifting weight and also knew about the ways to deal with the same. Kindly go for the preventive steps to keep away from such shoulder injuries from lifting weight. Seek immediate medical attention in case of severe shoulder injuries and do consult with your doctor for the best of the treatments in shoulder injuries from lifting weights.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 29, 2018

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