The No.1 cause of Shoulder pain in strength training and how to avoid it

The number one cause of shoulder pain in strength training is Anterior Humeral Glide (AHG)

What is AHG?

AHG is a condition in which the head of the humorous ‘glides’ forward concerning the socket during movement. This motion can happen during any type of pressing or pulling. It is important to understand because AHG leads to shoulder impingement and pain, or injury over time. AHG  may also explain why some people can’t build musculature in a specific area because the glide stops all tension going through the targeted muscle, so that muscle never fatigues. AHG is most commonly felt at the lowest point of a Lat Pulldown, or the bottom point of a bench press.

Why does it occur?

AHG is due to poor thoracic mobility and the body’s inability to retract the scapula during upper body movements.

Why is it becoming more prevalent during training?

Often because clients are moving towards training movement, not muscles. For example, the cross fit style of exercises focuses on completing x number of chin ups, rather than technique.

Our society also has increasingly poor posture, which is also a factor.

Inadequate mobility and movement training of the scapula can also cause AHG.

Good things to practice:

  1. Practice scapula retraction with movements like ‘banded pull-aparts’
  2. Use Self Myofascial Release to increase thoracic mobility and decrease the restriction of the scapula.

During strength training, you should:

  1. Reduce load and slow tempo during all movements to set humorous and scapula correctly.
  2. Pause and reset shoulder girdle during any change of motion
  3. Practice training the target ‘muscle’ not ‘movement ‘ during sets
  4. Reduce ROM as you fatigue but keep working through partial reps.

Focusing on shoulder function during weight training is one of the keys to building a strong and durable body as we age. Applying yourself to the above protocols will keep you progressing with your lifting without developing chronic anterior shoulder pain.