For the last two and a half years I have had problems along my left side neuromuscular chain, from neck to my shoulder, through my elbow, forearm and wrist. However, that is now turning around. I have been lifting heavy in the gym (in a programmed way) and things seems to be improving.
For a long time, I had avoided lifting heavy bench,and over head. But for the past several months, I’ve been following Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 programming, and the weights are now in territory I’ve never been. This has been challenging for my shoulder, elbow, and forearms grip strength. It is to the point sometimes that I need to buck up just to shake a man’s hand.
I have had to take a week off from shoulder work here and there–well not a week off, but a week with careful shoulder work. For instance, only the major lifts which engage my shoulder, and dropping any minor or assistance work that may challenge my shoulder.
At night I wasn’t able to sleep on my side, I’ve only been able to lay on my stomach or back without pain.
Well what about the rehab part?
This past week I’ve noticed considerably less pain at night, and have even been able to tolerate short periods on my side.
I completely believe this is due in large part to careful progression through flat barbel bench, incline dumbbell bench, strict overhead press, cleans, and clean & press. Progression to PR level weights for me in every lift. The cleans and clean & press are PR level, but I have not really pushed them and have sacrificed them on those dodgy shoulder days.
Flat bench. The key for me has been to really dial in my form, and to vary my grip width as the weights move up.
Overhead press. This can be challenging, but it is largely a form issue. Overhead press has, I feel, greatly improved my range of motion
Incline Dumbbell Press has been helpful because it is a less compromised position, and the dumbbells allow you to rotate your shoulder position to be more stable.
Clean, Clean & Press. Cleans are Push Press are an inigma in that they engage and involve the shoulder and upper body, while simultaneously the lifter tries to minimize upper body engagement in these lifts. This seemingly contradictory situation has been helpful for my shoulder rehab, as I can tell when my form is breaking down as shoulder pain sets in. Also, it has helped teach better should mechanics through minor adjustments which either hurt more, or hurt less.
There you have it–my dawning revelation and thoughts regarding my shoulder pain subsiding in recent weeks (week or two).