How To Get Rid Of Shoulder Pain From Deadlifting
May 4th 2019
Find out how to get identify if your shoulder pain from deadlifting is normal or not.
Heaving healthy shoulders are important for anybody looking to work out at the gym for a long period of time.
Even if you have periodic flashes of shoulder issues, it would not be a good time for you.
So, here is what you should know about bulletproofing your shoulder when it comes time to deadlift.
Deadlift shoulder pain
If you have shoulder pain during the deadlift, you need to stop doing the movement. Working through pain is never a good idea. Though working on rehab exercises and resting are some options to consider, it is important to keep your shoulder moving without pain.
Front shoulder area pain
We have some lifters that experienced pain in the front of their shoulders and then had it run down his entire arm.
When he later did dips afterward, the pain worsened.
Generally speaking, if you are in pain, do not push it.
Allow your body to dictate the pace of your recovery and take it easy.
Facet joint strain
We also have some lifters who went to a medical professional when they had pain right behind their neck, around the shoulder blade area.
The lifter had pain around his traps whenever he turned his neck left or right.
He also experienced pain when he tucked his chin in.
He was diagnosed with a facet joint strain.
The facet joints are the neck vertebrae in your body.
It was commented that this condition occurred because the lifter did not keep a neutral head position throughout the lift.
He was given the green light to continue deadlifting but to make sure his head position was neutral.
Issue started with the bench press
Then, we have lifters who had shoulder pain not from the deadlift but from the bench press.
As a rookie lifters do, they did not stop lifting and to analyze their condition.
To be more empathetic, I would have also continued lifting even if I was in a little bit of pain.
I would have just wanted to test out how far my body can go when I want to get stronger.
(Hint hint, you should definitely stop lifting if the pain does not go away in the very next session. You may develop complex injuries that could take weeks or months to heal instead of a couple of days).
But hindsight is always 20/20, and you should take off. But our lifter did not and he continued to strength train.
He later experienced overhead press shoulder pain.
But, whatever right?
Only 2 out of your 4 main lifts are in pain.
You can continue to strength train. He later found out his upper body lifts were not in good form.
As he tried to correct it, the pain magnified.
Later, this lifter experienced shoulder pain during his deadlifts and barbell rows as well.
It is obvious that you need to stop lifting when you are in pain.
I know you want to make gains.
But lifting without a brain is something that does not end well for anyone.
You know that something is wrong.
Why not think just a little bit and try to improve your symptoms?
You went to the doctor and they diagnosed you with shoulder impingement.
You have an inflamed bursa and cannot bench press without pain.
But you want to continue deadlifting?
Will there be any issue?
This is a controversial topic since many lifters have a split opinion about physical therapy on rehabbing their shoulder issues.
Even with medical professionals that do lift weights, they will always err to the side of caution when dealing with a client.
Unless you pay for someone to give you the green light, you will likely not get it.
What I have noticed is that you should keep moving.
Your body heals with movement.
Why is it that now many surgeons recommend that their patients, if they can, start moving as soon as they are done with surgery?
They have noticed, with data, that post-surgery recovery times are shortened with immediate movement done by the patients.
So, why not implement the same theory for someone tackling their own chronic symptoms.
I am generally surprised by the amount of pain people can complain about yet they do no movement or activity for that joint.
We live in a world where times are getting easier so it is important that we recognize that we need to keep moving our joints in their normal range of motion.
If that is painful, you will need to gradually work on your mobility every day.
You can do some shoulder prehab.
These are general exercises that work through your shoulder range of motion and warms up the delicate muscles of the rotator cuff.
As for our lifter, he opted to do surgery to fix his shoulder impingement.
Personally, I do not think it is a good idea to do invasive treatment but it is your life.
Pain right under armpit
If there is pain, you need to stop deadlifting.
Get yourself evaluated or see if symptoms improve.
See if you can do general ranges of motions with your impacted shoulder.
Try to limit the pain as much as you can.
Pain in the back of my shoulders
Personally, I only had two areas where I faced shoulder pain when deadlifting - on the top of my shoulders and at the back of my shoulders.
It happened when I was deadlifting heavy for a lot of sets. It does not happen often.
But when I would deadlift the weight, the back of my shoulder would pop a few times or just feel like a burning sensation.
In other rare times, the top of my shoulders would feel like they are burning.
As soon as I stop the deadlift (it is the last exercise of the day for me), I would be instantly relieved.
When I deadlift during my next heavy session, I would feel no pain.
What to do with your shoulders when deadlifting?
Do not worry about your shoulder position.
Instead, focus on keeping your chest up and your back neutral.
If you do these two cues, your shoulders will naturally fall into its strongest position.
The deadlift form is more about maintaining a neutral thoracic spine rather than trying to “lock your shoulder blades” in place.
You may also see many online gym bros giving advice about trying to tighten up your shoulders during the deadlift.
Their reasoning is that no body part should be loose when you are doing the deadlift.
But if you look up any world record holder for the deadlift, no one mentions how to lock your shoulders in place.
There is a reason for this.
Everyone is more concerned about the bar position compared to your foot.
They focus on your shin angle, and your back angle as well.
When it comes down to world record attempts, you will need to take advantage of your leverages.
This means that deadlifts will try to lengthen their arms in order to get closer to the bar.
If you lock your shoulders in place, you have just shortened your arm range of motion by a couple of inches.
That couple of inches could be the difference between having a decent starting position to having a really crappy one with locked shoulders.
Do not retract your scapula
If it was not obvious before, I will mention it again.
Do not do anything to your shoulder blades when deadlifting.
Scapula manipulation is for the bench press and squat.
During the deadlift, your main focus is your bar position, back angle and shin angle.
Picture your arms as a hook and your hips are the hinge that will lift the deadlift.
No type of pain is easy to deal with.
When it comes to the shoulders, even some medical professionals will scratch their heads to some of these issues.
With that said, you are your best doctor.
If something is wrong, your body will instantly react to it.
It may not be obvious but your body is great at showing many signs and symptoms that something needs to be addressed.