How to Train With a Shoulder Impingement

Written by joann bally
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How to Train With a Shoulder Impingement
Rest a sore shoulder while you continue to train. (Stärke image by imagenation from

Shoulder impingement occurs when rotator cuff tendons, biceps tendon or bursa sac are compressed between the shoulder blade and the humerus. It is often caused by activities in which the arm is raised when internally rotated -- with the thumb down. This can become chronic if not rested. You should continue to train while the shoulder heals, but you will have to work around the sore shoulder.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Ice
  • Dumbbells
  • Cardio equipment

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  1. 1

    Rest and ice your sore shoulder. If it remains painful, see a doctor and, if recommended, get physiotherapy.

  2. 2

    Concentrate on improving your cardiovascular fitness and lower body strength while resting your shoulder. You can run, walk, skate or use most cardio equipment. Biking will be good as long as you don't lean on your arms. Swimming is not recommended. You should also be able to do most lower body exercises. Do not do anything that causes pain in your shoulder. Barbell squats may put strain on your shoulders.

  3. 3

    Do dumbbell exercises for the unaffected arm, as long as only one shoulder is sore. There is some crossover benefit from the unaffected side to the sore shoulder and arm, and you will be able to regain your strength quicker in your shoulder when it is healed.

  4. 4

    Do single joint arm exercises on the side with the sore shoulder, as long as it does not cause pain. See if you can do biceps curls with your arm at your side and triceps press-downs without pain in the shoulder.

  5. 5

    Start with shoulder exercises with no added weight after the pain subsides. If there is no pain, go to very light dumbbells and progress slowly. Avoid or minimise exercises or movements that require internal rotation. If your sport requires such movements, consult a sports medicine professional.

Tips and warnings

  • A shoulder wrap may relieve pain. Have a coach or trainer review your biomechanics when training to see if there is a flaw in your technique that caused the impingement.
  • Be careful not to return to your regular training too soon. Avoid any exercise or movement that causes pain, except under a therapist's supervision.

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