If Your Shoulder Hurts, Can You Still Work Out?
If you are feeling pain in your shoulder, it is probably in your best interest not to continue working out and to instead allow the pain to subside before working out again. Shoulder pains occur from a variety of shoulder injuries, some of which are referred to as "repetitive motion injuries" while others are tears or strains of muscles and ligaments in the region. While more serious shoulder injuries require total immobilization, some stretching and low-impact exercises can still be performed while experiencing shoulder pain.
Common Shoulder Injuries
While shoulder pain can stem from a variety of injuries and ailments, some of the most common shoulder injuries include impingement, instability, rotator cuff tears, bursitis and tendinitis. Repetitive strain injuries, such as a rotator cuff strain, or bursitis and tendinitis often result in a dull and inflamed pain. Instability of the shoulder occurs when a shoulder joint is forced out of its normal position, resulting in pain when raising your arms. Impingement is often due to excessive rubbing between your shoulder blade and shoulder muscles. Shoulder instability and impingement are two types of injuries that can be prevented or minimized through basic arm-strengthening exercises such as wall push-ups and shoulder press-ups.
If you are suffering from a bursitis or overuse injury that results in a dull pain, stretching can often help reduce tension and improve blood flow to these regions. If the pain has gradually decreased as days go by, it is safe to stretch out your shoulder and arms. Shoulder stretches range from arm extensions to elbow bend stretches. To perform an elbow bend stretch, stand up straight with your arms at your sides and knees slightly bent. From there, lift your injured arm up, bending it at the elbow and placing your hand flat on the back of your neck. Take your other hand and place it on the top of your elbow, pushing down until you feel a stretch. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds before relaxing.
If you are rehabilitating from a shoulder injury, you eventually need to integrate low-impact exercises back into your daily routine. While your shoulder may still hurt, performing low-impact exercises that do not increase the pain of your shoulder can help improve range of motion, as well as strengthen the muscles in your arms. Low-impact arm exercises can be performed while swimming or using resistance bands to perform curls or arm extensions. To perform a resistance-band curl, attach the center of a resistance band to a static object, grabbing the ends of the band with both hands. While standing up straight with your knees slightly bent, curl your arms by bending at the elbows. Curl until your hands are at shoulder height before extending back out. Repeat until fatigued.
While it is possible to exercise with an injured shoulder, always consult with your doctor to make sure working out in your condition won't result in further damage to your arm. If your shoulder injury is a result of a surgery, you'll eventually have to work out to restore strength and range of motion to your arm. Despite this, it is important to distinguish between exercising with a stiff and immobile arm and exercising with pain. If you feel severe pain in your shoulder, you should not work out.
Jason Aberdeene has been a freelance writer since 2008. His articles have appeared in the "UCSD Guardian" and on various websites, specializing in teen health. An assistant at Kagan Physical Therapy since 2009, Aberdeene has a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the University of California, San Diego.