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How to Save Your Joints in the Gym


Filed Under (Fitness, shoulder impingement, Shoulder Injury, Shoulder Pain) by Rick Kaselj on 20-12-2012

As I have talked about on EFI before, a big shift I am doing is working on learning from other disciplines and other experts in fitness.

I focus on learning from other fitness experts, as fitness is an incredible field. It is so huge with numerous areas of specialization. My exercises for injuries part is one area of specialization but there are other areas like muscle building.

I know at first I would wonder, what can a bunch of meatheads that live in the gym teach me? When you live and breathe a specialization in fitness, plus do everything you can to master that specialization, you learn things that others don’t know.

That is what Vince Del Monte, who is a professional fitness model, and Ben Pakulski, who is competing in Mr Olympia in 2013,  have done for me.

They have a 12 Phase program called Hypertrophy MAX which helps guys build muscle. They sent me an advance copy and I have been reviewing the first 3 phases.

My first thought was, what can these guys teach me? But I worked hard to keep an open mind and listen. I am glad I did as I learned a lot from them.

I wanted to share with you a few of the things that stood out for me while watching the DVDs:

Hips Behind the Shoulder During a Biceps Curl – When doing a biceps curl, keep the hips behind the shoulder in order to prevent compensation movements from the body. This will target the biceps better and lead to better results.

Elbows Together with the Pec Fly Machine – If you use the pec fly machine, focus on the cue of “bringing the elbows together” in order to increase chest recruitment and to make the exercise more challenging.

Train the Traps in Multiple Shoulder Positions – For the average individual, they need to focus on decreasing the activation of their upper trapezius but for those that are looking at targeting them, look at targeting them in multiple shoulder positions. I liked what Ben suggested on changing the shoulder position when it comes to working the traps. Train the traps with the shoulder joint in protraction, neutral and retracted. Plus make sure to contract the triceps in order to keep the biceps out of exercise.

Hip Rotation During Leg Extension – We can argue about leg extensions being good or bad but it has many good uses and appropriate times to use it. Something to remember is a common mistake people make when using the leg extension is external rotation of the thigh (femur) at the hip joint. This creates poor muscle contraction, poor muscle development and puts unnecessary stress on the knee, leading to injury, like patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Movement & Muscle Contraction – You need to learn the movement and appreciate learning the right muscle contraction. This was mentioned over and over again by Vince and Ben. It is an excellent point.

How to Save Your Joints in the Gym – As I mentioned in Fix My Shoulder Pain, technique is the number one reason that people injure their shoulders in the gym. Ben mentioned it in another way: negative tweaks to your technique, especially when you get fatigued, can stress and damage the joint which will increase your risk of injury. One other thing you can do to keep your joints safe is to slow down the movement. So important.

Do the Triceps Press at Shoulder Width – If you are doing a black rope tricep pushdown  or a short bar triceps pushdown, this leads to the shoulder tucking, decreases the space in the shoulder (subacromial space) and increases the risk of shoulder impingement — plus it recruits the chest (pectoralis major) into the exercise. When performing the triceps pushdown, use a long bar and have your hands in line with your shoulders. This is more challenging, and you won’t be able to do as much weight, but your shoulders will thank you.

How You Do Something Now, Will Affect Your Longevity When it Comes to Exercising – A key to your longevity when it comes to exercising in 10 to 20 years is how smart you train right now. You can get results and train smart. It you do not train smart, you will get injured and have to quit the gym and your sport.

Move Away from the Bench When You Row – When doing a single arm bench row, the hip of the kneeling leg is greater than 90 degrees and shift your weight away from the kneeling legs so most of it is on the straight leg that is on the floor. This loads up the working shoulder/back muscles and makes the exercise harder, plus if opens up the shoulder and prevents shoulder impingement as in the triceps pressdown.

I still have more to watch and I am looking forward to it. It might have to wait for one of my flights in January but I am looking forward to it.

If you would like to check out Ben and Vince’s program, you can check it out here.

Take care.

Rick Kaselj, MS



Importance of Scapular Exercises


Filed Under (Fitness, Rotator Cuff Exercises, Scapular Stabilization, shoulder impingement, Shoulder Injury) by Rick Kaselj on 18-06-2012

Today I have an interview for you on the Importance of Scapular Exercise.

This interview is with a fitness professional who has a specialization in injury and a passion for the shoulder.

Well, the interview is with me.

Enjoy the interview with me as I chat about scapular exercise.


Kate Vidulich: Hey, this is Kate Vidulich from OutbackFitness.com . Today, I have a very special interview for you. We will be talking a little bit about shoulder pain.

We are going to discuss the importance of Scapular Stabilization, primarily preventing and treating your shoulder injuries.

We will also talk a little bit about chronic injuries and pain and the best ways to manage these situations.

On the line today I’ve got a very special guest, Rick Kaselj, from exercises for injuries.

I’ll have him introduce himself and then will get to the questions. All right, thanks Rick, take it away.

(Throughout the interview, I will put up a few videos that complement the interview. Here is a scapular exercise with the foam roller.)

Rick Kaselj: Thank you very much, Kate. My name is Rick Kaselj and I am an injury and exercise expert. That means that I help people overcome their injuries and pain utilizing exercise. I’m a personal trainer / exercise physiologist / kinesiologst in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Early on in my career, what happened was I would have people come to the gym and everyone that I saw had some sort of lingering injury that needed to be dealt with.

A lot of times they would say “I have this, do you know of some exercises that I can do for this injury”.

And as I kept seeing more and more of these clients it kind of forced me to head out there and do more research and better understand injuries and what exercises to do for different types of injuries and pain.

It ended up evolving from the training and then teaching other trainers and coaches out there on what exercises to do. And now I have ExercisesForInjuries.com where I write, do videos and create injury workouts on a wide variety of injuries (neck injuries, shoulder injuries, back injuries, hip injuries, knee injuries, etc.).

That’s kind of who I am, Kate.

Kate Vidulich: Wonderful Rick, this is fantastic. I know your website has been going for quite some time. It has been very beneficial to me and to my clients. You have a fantastic product that you have created especially on scapular stabilization which has helped me and my clientele.

Can you tell me primarily who the product is targeted to?

Rick Kaselj: Maybe for those who don’t know I will explain what scapular stabilization is.

(Here is me talking about the importance of scapular exercises with frozen shoulder.)

Kate Vidulich: Yeah, you got it.

Rick Kaselj: If we look into the shoulder there are 3 groups of muscles that end up playing a role.

  • There are the superficial muscles, those are the kinds of muscles that we can see.  For example chest (pec major), shoulders (deltoid), and then the back which (latissiumus dorsi). These superficial muscles end up providing gross movements for moving the arm.
  • The second group ends up stabilizing the bone into the shoulder, whenever you do any type of movement. They end up turning on, pulling the upper arm into the shoulder joint, in order to keep it nice and fixed, whenever you move the arm and those end up being the rotator cuff muscles.
  • The third group that is often talked about is the shoulder blade muscles or scapular stabilizers. These are all the muscles that are around the shoulder blade. What that shoulder blade muscles do is move the shoulder blade whenever we move our arms. And work most effectively and efficiently.

What often times ends up happening is because those shoulder blade muscles are stabilizers, if there’s any type of pain, injury, or poor posture, these muscles end up being turned off and not working properly and increasing your risk of injuries. It could be neck pain, shoulder impingement, frozen shoulder, plus it ends up increasing your risk of rotator cuff injury because since the scapular muscles are not doing their job, the rotator cuff muscles end up having to work even harder and eventually they can’t take it anymore and get injured.

That’s the little story on what those scapular muscles are and why they are so important.

Kate Vidulich: Yeah, absolutely. I mean this kind of issue affects so many people. Any kind of neck pain, shoulder pain –  really this information can apply to anyone in the general population.

Rick Kaselj: Definitely.

One thing that has an effect on the shoulder is here in North America, we do a lot of sitting. It can be driving or going on the subway to work. While we are at work we are sitting and when we are at home we are sitting while watching TV or checking email. It all ends up being in the sitting position.

And if we end up being rounded forward in the shoulders what that ends up doing is lengthening those scapular muscles and putting them in a poor position so they can’t work properly and that puts more stress on that rotator cuff muscle.

Poor posture puts the shoulder in a poor position and the head in a poor position, increasing the risk of pain in those 2 areas, the shoulder and the neck, and also increasing the risk when it comes to neck and shoulder pain.

It’s important addressing those scapular muscles and the common mistake that people make when it comes to working their shoulder blade muscles or their scapular muscles is they end up focusing on rowing movements.

(This is a video on if scapular exercises are bad for the rotator cuff.)

And that’s good, it’s important to work on those rowing movements. That’s one of the movements for one of the muscle groups that you want to work on, but it’s very much like just living on a one type of food.

Just like only eating vegetables and not eating everything else. There are other movements and muscles that you need to focus in on when it comes to targeting those scapular muscles.

Kate Vidulich: Very interesting because it also sounds like you need to get some activation happening as well.

And I think that’s what a lot of people forget about when they try to do workouts like you say and they start to row.

You also talked about pre-rehabilitation right now and rehabilitation. Can you explain a little bit about the difference between the two and how they can be incorporated into an exercise program?

Rick Kaselj: If we look at the difference between pre-rehabilitation and rehabilitation, rehabilitation is recovery from an injury and pre-rehabilitation is doing things to prevent injuries.

That’s the definition of the two.

When it comes to rehabilitation and pre-rehabilitation, a lot of people think that that’s all they have to do.

They have to go and do 30 minutes or  an hour and a half of all these low level exercises that aren’t really very exciting and are not helping them reach their fitness goals, fat loss goals or their performance goals.

In that case what I end up doing is intertwining those pre-rehabilitation and rehabilitation exercises into someone’s program so that they end up spending maybe 5 to 10 minutes just working on these specific exercises.

Kate Vidulich: Excellent. I mean this is great because I also feel like a lot of people bypass all these kinds of movements because they are often not the most exciting in an exercise program.

(Here are a few kind words on my Scapular Stabilization Exercise program.)

Rick Kaselj: Yeah, definitely.

I had this experience. I’ve gone to physical therapy for my back pain. I injured my back and when I was at physical therapy, they gave me a whole bunch of random exercises. I remember sitting in there for 45 minutes doing these very boring exercises that helped a little bit but it almost put me to sleep.

~~~End of Part 1~~~

That is the end of part one of the interview.  I will be back with the second part in a few days.

It you would like to check out my Scapular Stabilization Exercise program, you can here:

Take care and have a great day.

Rick Kaselj, MS



Scaption and Shoulder Impingement


Filed Under (Fitness, shoulder impingement, Shoulder Injury, Shoulder Pain) by Rick Kaselj on 02-06-2011

Today I would like to talk about scaption.

The question is based on a Facebook message I got from a reader.

Thanks so much Steve.

Thank you for everyone who follows me on Facebook and sends me questions.

I have a tough time calling myself an expert, but thanks.

The debates about shoulder pressing, hmmm.

This is my take on it.

#1 – The Afraid Physical Therapist


I hate generalizations.  Some people throw me into the pool of dumb personal trainers even though I have two degrees, numerous publications, trained thousands of people and have been doing this for a few years.

I can’t generalize all physical therapists because I hate being generalized.

I see numerous personal trainers telling their clients not to press overhead, which I think is wrong.

Lets start with not generalizing.  If I look back at what I did when I started training or even what I did last year, I shake my head at it.

#2 – What is the Big Deal About Shoulder Pressing?

The statement of not pressing over the head being bad has been around for a while.

I think people feel that everyone who shoulder presses could run the risk of a shoulder impingement.

This is another bad generalization.  Most clients will not have shoulder impingement with pressing and need to be doing overhead movements.

Plus avoiding something is not always the best answer.  Looking at why it hurts and what can be done to move it out of pain is more important because not addressing it could lead to other issues.

#3 – What to Do About the Fear of Overhead Pressing?


If you are a geek and like reading journals like me, you would know that you can move the overhead press exercise into the scapular plane.

If you don’t know what the scapular plane is or scaption, let me explain what scaption is:

What is Scaption?

==>  Scaption <==  What is it?

Let me go back to the research thing.  When I did my master’s project, a lot of the research had test protocols that moved the subjects out of pure abduction and into the scaption.  They did this in order to do the best they can to eliminate impingement being a factor in the study.

Let me go through an exercise example.

For example, with the traditional shoulder press with dumbbells.  When you press overhead, you traditionally bring the ends of the dumbbells together at the top of the movement.

You can move the elbows so they are not only in the frontal plane (abduction).  You move them about 30 degrees in front of the frontal plane.  Then you perform the shoulder press movement.  Instead of hitting the ends of the dumbbell at the top of the movement, you would hit the corners of the dumbbells.  This puts the shoulder in a happier position and less likely to pinch.

#4 – Overhead Pressing Is Evil!

This probably needs another post but I do at least one overhead movement in a workout.

I don’t feel a shoulder press is the best or only overhead press movement to do.

It could be a diagonal pull up or an incline bench press but I do want to do movements over 90 degrees of shoulder height for shoulder health.

I hope that helps.

One thing I talked about in the video was the Effective Rotator Cuff Exercise Program.

That is it.

Rick Kaselj, MS

Here are some other articles on shoulder pain or rotator cuff that may interest you:

What is Shoulder Impingement?

What Causes Shoulder Pain?

Read the rest of this entry »

Suspension Trainer for Shoulder Pain


Filed Under (Fitness, Scapular Stabilization, shoulder impingement, Shoulder Injury, Shoulder Pain) by Rick Kaselj on 19-05-2011

I have a guest blog post for you today on suspension training and the shoulder.  It is from Zita Alves.

Enjoy the post and make sure to try out some of the exercises.

Take it away Zita…

I love to do bodyweight exercises but there comes a time when you know that something is missing – the pulls.

There are not many people, especially women, who can just hop up onto a bar and bang out a set of pull ups, particularly if they are overweight.

It can be really hard to achieve muscle balance without using any gym equipment/dumbells etc as pulling movements using the lats, rhomboids, trapezius and biceps cannot  always be overloaded enough by gravity alone – they need an external force.

How many people do you see who have internally rotated shoulders and an overdeveloped chest.

Not only from a postural point of view but also from a sports specific standpoint should we be looking at working the back musculature in equal measure. Given where the lats insert, isolated lat exercises or overtrained lat muscles can exacerbate this internal rotation which is why “rowing” movements are so beneficial in order to hit the rhomboids,mid/lower traps, serratus and posterior deltoids.

By using a suspension trainer you are able to do both horizontal and vertical pulling movements to target different muscles and the great thing is that by tiny adjustments in hand, elbow or body position you are able to hit the whole back from every angle.

Be sure to set the scapula, shoulders down away from ears, neck long for every movement.  Here are some great exercises to try include:



  • Arms out in “T” Position in line with shoulders
  • Hands facing forward
  • Standing almost upright


  • Lean back as arms come forward in front of chest, hands facing each other
  • Lift arms back to start position keeping arms slightly bent, leading with top of hand
  • Wrists strong, core braced, keep chest up, squeeze shoulder blades down



  • Arms out in-line with shoulder
  • Bent elbows , hands face down in-line with elbows
  • Lean back slightly


Lean back more as arms straighten in-front of body, hands facing down chest up, core braced, back straight, wrists strong



  • Arms by side, elbows bent
  • Hands facing each other, inline with elbows
  • Lean back slightly


  • Lean back more as arms straighten in front of body, hands facing each other, chest up, core braced, back straight
  • Pull leading with elbows, keeping shoulder blades down to bring arms and body back to start position
  • Pull leading with elbows, keeping shoulder blades down to bring arms and body back to start position



  • Hold 1 handle only
  • Feet hip width apart, slightly in-front of hands
  • Bend knees to sit back, bottom towards floor
  • Arm straight and rotate body to let other hand touch floor  Hands facing forward


  • Push into legs at same time as pulling handle to bend arm and row body up to standing position, other hand can cross over strap
  • Straighten the arm and bend the legs to return to start position



  • Arms in “Y” position
  • Hands facing forward
  • Standing almost upright


  • Lean back as arms come forward in front of chest, hands facing each other
  • Lift arms back to start position keeping arms slightly bent, leading with top of hand
  • Wrists strong, core braced, keep chest up, squeeze shoulder blades down

Once the exerciser has mastered  the basic movements with good form they can work on some great combinations such as the following:

  • Low and high row combi
  • Low row, reverse flye combi
  • High row to Y raise combi

One of my favourite combinations is :-Y raise, high row, low row to bicep curl. Perform 1 rep of each after the other in a continuous movement aiming for approx 5 reps in total, or more reps depending on the foot positioning. The advantage of suspension training is that during a set if form deteriorates the feet can be very slightly moved to make the exercise easier and maintain the time under tension.

One of the coolest ways to use the Ztrainer is for MYOFASCIAL STRETCHES. The body has lines that run through the it and tightness in these lines is very common and can lead to dysfunction. For example one of the lines that I love to stretch for both myself and my clients is the anterior lines that runs from the head down the front of the body through the hips down the legs into the feet. A great way to prepare the body ready for activity is by incorporating the following movements.

Lunge and chest openings

Facing away from the anchor point, holding the handles lightly, arms straight and wide in T position step forward into lunge, tucking pelvis under. Make sure fingers pointing back to add a slight nerve stretch.

Alternate feet and repeat with arms in more of a Y position

Developing this further you can get an even deeper stretch. Step right foot forward into lunge position, tuck pelvis under and lift left arm. Keep right arm down by side and rotate upper body slightly to right to get a great stretch down the left side of the body. There are not many people who won’t feel this one!

Curtsey lunge and lat stretch

Facing the anchor point standing back with arms straight, take 1 leg behind into a curtsey lunge and drop chest to feel the lats stretch.

Side Stretch

Standing sideways to anchor point, grab both handles with arms straight, feet under handles and drop hip slightly to side, eg if anchor point is on left, drop left hip out to side to feel left side of body stretching

Do as many of the above as you feel your body needs.

Zita Alves has been a Personal Trainer for 13 years after a career change in 1998. As a non-exercising, overweight asthmatic she has found her true passion in helping others. In 2009 Zita set up Bath Bootcamp in Somerset, UK which currently runs 15 classes a week. In 2010 she launched the Ztrainer Suspension Fitness Training System which already has customers around the world and is being used by some of the UK’s leading Fitness Professionals.
For more information go to www.ztrainer.co.uk




Thank you so much Zita.

Thank you for reading, until next time.

Rick Kaselj, MS



Shoulder Pain and Tricep Dips


Filed Under (Fitness, Rotator Cuff Exercises, Scapular Stabilization, shoulder impingement, Shoulder Injury) by Rick Kaselj on 10-05-2011

I just got an email from an online training client.

She is testing out my upcoming shoulder pain program.

It is so cool getting emails like this:

Dear Rick,

Thank you for your email. Sorry for not replying to your email earlier. I had a friend in crisis staying at my house, I was helping her all week and she just left on Friday.

Today I have completed the first day of your program ( Sunday 1st May ) and I am very happy with the result.

Both shoulders are getting a bit more movement and I look forward to doing these exercises each day to see how much improvement I can get by next Sunday.

I will be going on my 3 month camping trip around Australia next Tuesday and I will have my computer with me. I might not be able to email you when I am at a remote location. My plan is to report to you at the end of each week, however depends on when I can get a signal to send emails.

Thank you for your help and I look forward to talking to you next week.

All the best,

It is great to get great feedback like this and also to be able to help people around the world.  Plus I love the fact she is doing the exercises where ever she is, even on her camping trip.  Camping in Australia would be fun, I have yet to do that.  Soon enough.

One other thing she said in her email was she was having difficulty with some of the stretches for the shoulder and was wondering what she could do.  I will do another blog post on what you can do if the typical shoulder stretches cause you pain.

Back to today’s post.

This past weekend at the Exercise Rehabilitation of the Lower Body course, a fitness professional asked me about the tricep dip exercise.

She had been giving it to a client and it had been causing her shoulder pain.  She wondered why it would be causing her pain and if she should be doing it.

I cringe when I see someone doing a tricep dip.  It is not a great exercise for the shoulder.  Let me explain why:


Few Thought from Rick on Tricep Dips:

I Used To Do It

This was an exercise that I was taught when I started out doing personal training.

I thought it was good for the triceps but I always did not feel right doing the exercises as I felt a lot of stress in my shoulder.

Now that I have trained a few people and have a better understanding of the biomechanics of the shoulder, I have put this exercise in the museum of exercises.  Right beside ballistic toe touching in leg warmers and spandex.

Rotator Cuff and AC Joint Injuries

Just like leg extensions are not the best exercises for a client with a knee injury, tricep dips are not the best for someone with a rotator cuff or AC joint injury.

Great Way of Sawing Your Rotator Cuff

I know we are all fans of Jillian Michael’s kettlebell technique.

How about Bob:

Can you hear her rotator cuff being sawed?

Way to go Bob!  100 reps!  CrAzY.

Can you image a client who is overweight and needs to lose 50 pounds doing Bob’s challenge?

With every repetition her scapula anterior tilts and digs into her rotator cuff.

I shake my head.

Why would anyone do 100 reps of a small muscle group?


Read the rest of this entry »

What Causes Shoulder Pain?


Filed Under (Fitness, General, shoulder impingement, Shoulder Injury, Shoulder Pain) by Rick Kaselj on 17-03-2011

I have had a few clients with shoulder pain of late so I decided to sit down and write a little about shoulder pain.

I wanted to put something together that I could print out and give to them so I could educate them on their shoulder pain.

This is the first part of the shoulder pain series – What causes shoulder pain?.


How Big of a Problem is Shoulder Pain?

Musculoskeletal disorders are the second leading reason for physician visits each year with about 132 million physician visits occurring in 2006 (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2009).



It is estimated that musculoskeletal disorders cost the United States almost $850 billion annually, and about 440 million work days are missed due to these health conditions.

With about 7.5 million physician visits each year, shoulder pain is a major contributor to the increasing disability caused by musculoskeletal disorders in developing nations (AAOS, 2009).

I always like to start off with some numbers.  The numbers are impressive.  It shows how big of an issue injuries are, especially shoulder pain.


4 Key Parts to the Shoulder

The shoulder girdle is composed of 3 bones and 3 main joints held together by ligaments (structures that connect bones to other bones), tendons (structures that connect muscles to bones), bursae and muscles.

Bone of the Shoulder Joint

The shoulder consists of these three bones:

  • humerus (upper arm bone)
  • scapula (shoulder blade)
  • clavicle (collar bone)

Joints of the Shoulder

Acromioclavicular Joint – A key structure on the the outer end of the scapula, protruding away from midline of the body is the acromion.  The acromion forms the highest point of the shoulder.  It is a key area for ligaments to attach and forms half of the acromioclavicular joint with the clavicle.

Glenohumeral Joint – The head or ball of the humerus fits into the shallow socket on the scapula, called the glenoid fossa, to form the glenohumeral joint.  This is the main joint of the shoulder and the joint that allows the high level of movement the shoulder has.

The head of the humerus is larger in comparison to the glenoid, and only one-third of the humeral head is in contact with the glenoid fossa.  A larger humeral head in contact with a shallow socket enables great movement in the joint but decreases the stability of the shoulder and leads to its increased risk of shoulder injuries.

The glenoid fossa is made deeper by a ring of fibrous cartilage surrounding the glenoid, called the labrum.  Extending and making the fossa deeper enhances stability of the shoulder joint.

Sternoclavicual Joint – The inner end of the clavicle connects to the sternum (breastbone), forming the sternoclavicular joint.  This joint is the only link of the shoulder and arms to the rest of the skeleton of the body.

Scapulathoracic joint – Is where the scapula moves up and down against the rib cage. This joint is not an actual joint as it depends entirely on the surrounding muscles during shoulder movements.

This shows that the shoulder is a very complex structure.  One specific shoulder joint may be injured but it will affect all of the other shoulder joints.

Muscles of the Shoulder

Rotator Cuff Muscles – A key set of muscles that stabilizes the shoulder joint are the rotator cuff muscles which have a key function of keeping the humeral head centered within the glenoid fossa. The tendons of supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis muscles form the rotator cuff.  Injuries involving the rotator cuff and their tendons are one of the leading causes of shoulder pain.

Scapular Stabilizers – The set of muscles that connect to the scapula and assist in stabilizing and moving the scapula.

Shoulder Muscles – These are the large superficial muscles that you see when you look at the shoulder joint.  Examples of these muscles are the deltoid and latissimus dorsi.

Bursae of the Shoulder

Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that allow smooth gliding between two surfaces that move against one another.  There are many bursae associated with the shoulder joint.

Inflammation of the bursa located between the acromion and joint capsule that surround the glenohumeral joint and the bursa between the subscapularis and the joint capsule are the most common areas in the shoulder that can lead to shoulder bursitis and shoulder pain.

6 of the Most Common Shoulder Injuries

Any injury or disease affecting the supportive structures of the shoulder, such as the bones, tendons, bursae, cartilage, and ligaments can result in shoulder pain.

In general, wear and tear, overuse or repetitive overhead movements and trauma play a major role in the development of shoulder pain. The following are the common causes of shoulder pain:

#1 – Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

Tendonitis is the inflammation the rotator cuff tendon resulting from overuse or repetitive movements affecting the rotator cuff.

#2 – Rotator Cuff Tear

Overuse, repetitive overhead motions, aging or falling my result in degeneration of the rotator cuff tendon, which can cause incomplete or complete tearing of the rotator cuff.

Rotator cuff tears usually cause pain in the deltoid muscle, especially when the affected arm is lifted from the sides.

#3 – Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability occurs when the humeral head is not sufficiently maintained within the center of the glenoid fossa.

If the joint becomes too loose, the head of the humerus may slide partially out of place, termed shoulder subluxation, or it may completely come out of place, a condition called a shoulder dislocation.

#4 – Frozen shoulder or Adhesive Capsulitis

Frozen shoulder is a tightening of the capsule that surrounds the shoulder joint which leads to poor movement of the shoulder and shoulder pain.

#5 – Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement (squeezing of the rotator cuff tendon), most frequently occurs in the supraspinatus, underneath the bony arch of the acromion.

#6 – Arthritis of the Shoulder

Arthritis is a degenerative disease that usually occurs due to wearing and tearing of the affected joint, as in osteoarthritis, or due to a systemic inflammation, as in rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis results in loss of protective cartilage in the shoulder joint which can cause pain and limited shoulder movement.

Other causes of shoulder pain include shoulder fractures, labral tears, calcific tendonitis, superior labrum from anterior to posterior or SLAP tears and biceps tendon ruptures.

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

Increased Risk with Age – Shoulder pain is more common in individuals older than 40 years and is often the result of wear and tear on the shoulder.

Previous Shoulder Injury – In younger adults, shoulder pain is commonly associated with a previous injury.

Related to Sports Played or Work Performed – In addition, about 21% of shoulder pain associated with injuries was related to work (Wofford, Mansfield & Watkins, 2005).

Athletes and workers who execute repetitive overhead or throwing motions have greater risk for shoulder injuries and pain.  Examples of sports where athletes have greater risk of shoulder pain are swimming, tennis, baseball, volleyball and javelin.  Examples of occupations that are at greater risk of shoulder pain are carpenters, painters, construction workers and workers performed repeated overhead movements.

Posture – Bad postures and body mechanics also increase the risk of shoulder pain.  For example, forward rolled shoulders increases the risk for impingement syndrome. This type of posture can reduce the space to which the rotator cuff tendons or muscles goes through, which increase the risk of squeezing the structures underneath the acromion.

Diagnosis of Shoulder Pain


The cause of shoulder pain is mainly determined by medical history, results from a physical examination and findings on the diagnostic imaging tools.

If the pain is severe or if the cause is still undetermined through physical examination, your physician may recommend diagnostic imaging tests to obtain the accurate cause of the pain.  X-rays, a magnetic resonance imaging or an ultrasound may be ordered in order to provide better clarification of the injury and the severity of the injury.



I hope you enjoyed part one on Shoulder Pain and have a better idea of the magnitude of shoulder pain, the make up of the shoulder, common causes of shoulder pain and ways of diagnosing shoulder pain.

Rick Kaselj, MS

P.S. – If you are looking for other resources when it comes to shoulder pain, injuries and recovery, these may help:

Other articles on shoulder pain, injuries and recovery:

Fitness Education Courses on shoulder pain, injuries and recovery:


Books and products related to shoulder pain, injuries and recovery:

That is it for now!



Supplements for Knee Pain and Inflammation (Part 1)


Filed Under (ACL Injury, Fitness, Hip Injury, Hip Pain, Knee Injury, Knee Pain, shoulder impingement, Shoulder Pain) by Rick Kaselj on 05-09-2010

I got  a guest post for you.

It is from Ben Greenfield.  I have been reading his stuff for some time and I asked him to send me a blog post.

I liked it and I know you will as well.  It talks about inflammation which is a huge issue in recovery from injuries, enjoy.

How To Recover Like Wolverine From X-Men

By Ben Greenfield, MS – Author of The Bulletproof KneeRun With No Pain

Let’s make just one giant assumption and assume that you know all about Wolverine from X-Men.

You know he possesses animal-keen senses.

You know he competes like a super-human weapon.

You know he has retracting bone claws made from space-age metal.

And, perhaps, most importantly, you know he possesses a special healing factor that allows him to quickly recover from virtually any wound, disease or toxin.

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Addressing Trigger Points for Shoulder Pain


Filed Under (Corrective Exercise, Fitness, Foam Rolling, shoulder impingement, Shoulder Injury, Shoulder Pain) by Rick Kaselj on 04-09-2010

One of the presenters of Muscle Imbalances Revealed, Eric Beard, just finished up this great video:

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