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    Registered User rat164's Avatar
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    Push-ups and shoulder injury

    Last week I tried a lot of push-ups. I could not do a high-rep push up so I tried many small sets like 20,20,15,15,10,10,7,5,5,3,3,2 until I could not do at all. Right after that, I felt great. One day later my triceps were sore. The next day I could fell my front deltoids burned but the third day my right shoulder got hurt a lot that I thought I had some rotator cuff problem. It was a stiff pain when I raised my right arm. Moving the arm like swimming was impossible.

    I had always thought that if some exercise can make injuries then it would happen when I am doing it and hence I can stop the exercise. In this case, it appeared three days later. So how can I know if an exercise is being done properly or not to prevent injuries ? My shoulder is almost normal now and I really do not want to make it hurt again.
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    The shoulder is a complex beast. A large percentage of people after age 30 are walking around with torn rotator cuff issues. Only way to know is a trip to the md.
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    1st Dan Chito-Ryu tonester's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by rat164 View Post
    Last week I tried a lot of push-ups. I could not do a high-rep push up so I tried many small sets like 20,20,15,15,10,10,7,5,5,3,3,2 until I could not do at all. Right after that, I felt great. One day later my triceps were sore. The next day I could fell my front deltoids burned but the third day my right shoulder got hurt a lot that I thought I had some rotator cuff problem. It was a stiff pain when I raised my right arm. Moving the arm like swimming was impossible.

    I had always thought that if some exercise can make injuries then it would happen when I am doing it and hence I can stop the exercise. In this case, it appeared three days later. So how can I know if an exercise is being done properly or not to prevent injuries ? My shoulder is almost normal now and I really do not want to make it hurt again.
    Ease into it. Traumatic injuries are the ones you immediately know that something got screwed. The other type of injury is overuse. It creeps up on you if you don't train smart and recover properly.

    Did you at least warm up before doing 115 push ups (12 sets!!!) to constant failure? What is your workout like, normally?
    Last edited by tonester; 11-02-2009 at 05:27 PM.
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    Originally Posted by tonester View Post
    Ease into it. Traumatic injuries are the ones you immediately know that something got screwed. The other type of injury is overuse. It creeps up on you if you don't train smart and recover properly.

    Did you at least warm up before doing 115 push ups (12 sets!!!) to constant failure? What is your workout like, normally?
    I had my shoulder scoped and cleaned a few months ago. Prior to that, I didn't have problems doing push ups if they were military style. The wide stance was difficult though. I thought I could modify my workouts and the pain would go away. After months (!!!), it wasn't working. I agree with Raiden1969 - the shoulder is complex. Get it checked out before you do more damage. It isn't worth it in the long run.
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    Its like the old joke about the guy who goes to the doctor and says, "Doc, it hurts when I do pushups." To which the doctor replies, "Then don't do pushups."

    Really gotta agree- if pushups are bothering you, go to the doctor and don't do them until you get green-lighted to do them. I have a pair of strained knees and I know that its just plain hard to not work out, but right now they just can't take much more exercise than walking and unweighted lifts. Long-term injuries are not fun- take it easy, and don't try to rush any exercise.
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    Originally Posted by tonester View Post
    Ease into it. Traumatic injuries are the ones you immediately know that something got screwed. The other type of injury is overuse. It creeps up on you if you don't train smart and recover properly.

    Did you at least warm up before doing 115 push ups (12 sets!!!) to constant failure? What is your workout like, normally?
    I guess I did something stupidly. About two weeks ago I had a back muscle strained and it stopped a lot of my exercises. So last week I tried pushup because it did not make my back hurt. As I said, it was great so the next day ( yes, should not do two days in a row ) I tried those push up again. I know I should have not done something like that. But I thought it should have sent me some signal like pain when I were doing it. But it didn't. The good thing is today I am able to use my shoulder again. A lesson for me.
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    Registered User rat164's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Raiden1969 View Post
    The shoulder is a complex beast. A large percentage of people after age 30 are walking around with torn rotator cuff issues. Only way to know is a trip to the md.
    Originally Posted by sha11 View Post
    I had my shoulder scoped and cleaned a few months ago. Prior to that, I didn't have problems doing push ups if they were military style. The wide stance was difficult though. I thought I could modify my workouts and the pain would go away. After months (!!!), it wasn't working. I agree with Raiden1969 - the shoulder is complex. Get it checked out before you do more damage. It isn't worth it in the long run.
    I am lucky this time. It looks like it heals today. I have to be careful with my shoulders.
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    Registered User JOHN GARGANI's Avatar
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    in a word, pushups SUCK, in plain english.....

    poor, poor substitute for bench pressing, which, when done properly, rarely will produce an injury....

    pushups are accidents waiting to happen.....

    one of the inherent problems with pushups and ANY bodyweight calisthenic, is that you HAVE to start immediately at full bodyweight.....

    so a person like me, who weighs 200 pounds, is doing the first rep with 200, which would never happen in benching, unless you are a monster....

    even the pros warm up with 135 in benching, and they are ending up in the high 300s.....or more....

    benching allows a proper and gradual transition to heavier weights, for all of the joints involved ( shoulder and elbow )......


    pushups are an expediency, but not the best one......
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    Originally Posted by JOHN GARGANI View Post
    in a word, pushups SUCK, in plain english.....

    poor, poor substitute for bench pressing, which, when done properly, rarely will produce an injury....

    pushups are accidents waiting to happen.....

    one of the inherent problems with pushups and ANY bodyweight calisthenic, is that you HAVE to start immediately at full bodyweight.....

    so a person like me, who weighs 200 pounds, is doing the first rep with 200, which would never happen in benching, unless you are a monster....

    even the pros warm up with 135 in benching, and they are ending up in the high 300s.....or more....

    benching allows a proper and gradual transition to heavier weights, for all of the joints involved ( shoulder and elbow )......


    pushups are an expediency, but not the best one......
    Classic example of bro science. Pushups are one of the BEST chest exercises you can do for overall fitness. For one thing, they train your core in a way that bench pressing does not because you have to stabilize yourself (especially if you're doing them on rings). And note that because your feet are on the ground, you're not lifting your entire bodyweight--more like 70-75 percent, depending on your center of mass. So if you weigh 200, you're only lifting about 140-150. If you want more weight, wear a weight vest. That only goes so far, of course, which is why pushups alone might not build a lot of mass. But mass isn't the only measure of fitness.
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    Originally Posted by jkinney5 View Post
    Classic example of bro science. Pushups are one of the BEST chest exercises you can do for overall fitness. For one thing, they train your core in a way that bench pressing does not because you have to stabilize yourself (especially if you're doing them on rings). And note that because your feet are on the ground, you're not lifting your entire bodyweight--more like 70-75 percent, depending on your center of mass. So if you weigh 200, you're only lifting about 140-150. If you want more weight, wear a weight vest. That only goes so far, of course, which is why pushups alone might not build a lot of mass. But mass isn't the only measure of fitness.
    ^^^^Quite right. The power push up (google it) also works great for me and is the core of my chest routine.
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    Originally Posted by jkinney5 View Post
    Classic example of bro science. Pushups are one of the BEST chest exercises you can do for overall fitness. For one thing, they train your core in a way that bench pressing does not because you have to stabilize yourself (especially if you're doing them on rings). And note that because your feet are on the ground, you're not lifting your entire bodyweight--more like 70-75 percent, depending on your center of mass. So if you weigh 200, you're only lifting about 140-150. If you want more weight, wear a weight vest. That only goes so far, of course, which is why pushups alone might not build a lot of mass. But mass isn't the only measure of fitness.
    I wouldn't build a program around push-ups, but they do have a role... although, I suppose it does hinge somewhat on whatever one's goals are. If your goals are either size or strength, push-ups should be supplemental to help with core strength, stabilization and overall general fitness.

    Got to agree about the bro science comment. Bench press "when done correctly" isn't dangerous. Problem is - only .01% of the lifting population benches with even remotely adequate form.

    Not to **** on the bench press, mind you. It's a solid core lift.

    OP -- does any other pressing movement cause you problems? How are your rotator cuffs, anyhow? What kind of pull movements do you include in your lifting routine?
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    Originally Posted by JOHN GARGANI View Post
    in a word, pushups SUCK, in plain english.....

    poor, poor substitute for bench pressing, which, when done properly, rarely will produce an injury....

    pushups are accidents waiting to happen.....

    one of the inherent problems with pushups and ANY bodyweight calisthenic, is that you HAVE to start immediately at full bodyweight.....

    so a person like me, who weighs 200 pounds, is doing the first rep with 200, which would never happen in benching, unless you are a monster....

    even the pros warm up with 135 in benching, and they are ending up in the high 300s.....or more....

    benching allows a proper and gradual transition to heavier weights, for all of the joints involved ( shoulder and elbow )......


    pushups are an expediency, but not the best one......
    Just for the heck of it after i read this post I went and weighed myself I weighed 203lbs I then got on the scale in a push-up position (hands on scale feet out behind me on floor) and the scale read 129lbs. Just thought I would toss this out there.
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    Originally Posted by JUSA View Post
    OP -- does any other pressing movement cause you problems? How are your rotator cuffs, anyhow? What kind of pull movements do you include in your lifting routine?
    It's good to see that some people understand the importance of push ups and balanced pulling for healthy scapular stability and hence shoulders.

    Originally Posted by JOHN GARGANI View Post
    so a person like me, who weighs 200 pounds, is doing the first rep with 200,
    That's not right. You would be doing push ups with ~130-140lbs. Try a push up on a scale and you'll see this.

    The bench press has done more for shoulder injuries than any exercise that I know. Not because of the exercise but because everybody wants to bench before they are ready or despite weaknesses.

    Push ups along with pull ups are excellent preparation for heavy external loading. The scaps, and by extension the shoulders, are allowed to develop freely (strength and stability) with good range of motion before they get asked to handle loads while lying on them.

    I don't know about any one else but I was doing pushups and pullups way before I handled any external loads. Most kids like me did.

    I think it's a shame that most want to go from couch (or desk) to bench while bypassing this very important stage.
    Last edited by tonester; 11-03-2009 at 05:29 PM.
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    Originally Posted by Old_Swole View Post
    I then got on the scale in a push-up position (hands on scale feet out behind me on floor) and the scale read 129lbs.

    interesting visual !


    I'll bet you looked "just plain silly" !
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    Originally Posted by Oceanside View Post
    interesting visual !


    I'll bet you looked "just plain silly" !
    I would say so............. lol

    I'm not a big believer in pushups, they have a place but you'll out grow them very very quickly.
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    Originally Posted by JOHN GARGANI View Post
    in a word, pushups SUCK, in plain english.....

    poor, poor substitute for bench pressing, which, when done properly, rarely will produce an injury....

    pushups are accidents waiting to happen.....

    one of the inherent problems with pushups and ANY bodyweight calisthenic, is that you HAVE to start immediately at full bodyweight.....

    so a person like me, who weighs 200 pounds, is doing the first rep with 200, which would never happen in benching, unless you are a monster....

    even the pros warm up with 135 in benching, and they are ending up in the high 300s.....or more....

    benching allows a proper and gradual transition to heavier weights, for all of the joints involved ( shoulder and elbow )......


    pushups are an expediency, but not the best one......
    Dude I am so glad to hear you say that! I have always had it hammered over my head that pushups are one of THE best things you can do and yet 2 days later my shoulders are screaming. The same thing does not happen with Bench. Granted, I have wuss shoulders but it was good to read your perspective.
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    Originally Posted by Old-Time-Lifter View Post
    I would say so............. lol

    I'm not a big believer in pushups, they have a place but you'll out grow them very very quickly.
    Try them on rings, or with a weight vest, or with one arm. If you ever outgrow one-armed pushups, my hat's off to you. I can't even do one, and I can do 70 regular (two-armed) pushups in a row.
    Last edited by jkinney5; 11-03-2009 at 06:51 PM.
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    I used to do lots of pushups ever other day and I did that for years without issue. I still use them to finish off chest day. Love em.
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    Originally Posted by not2l8 View Post
    Dude I am so glad to hear you say that! I have always had it hammered over my head that pushups are one of THE best things you can do and yet 2 days later my shoulders are screaming. The same thing does not happen with Bench. Granted, I have wuss shoulders but it was good to read your perspective.
    thank you: I have studied kinesiology inside and out all of my life....I know ins and outs of angles and things that people don't even realize....

    in addition to that, I had the advantage of dissecting a human being when I was in Dental school and am completely familiar with what origins and insertions of muscles look like IN THE RAW.......

    pushing AGAINST a floor is not the same as having a bar in your hands above you in the bench.....

    the floor is hard, cold and immobile....and fixed in a single position.....

    it is all about compression of the shoulder girdle, and rotator cuff and certain movements allow more flexibility in that area and some simply don't.....

    also: readiness of the joint is a huge issue in preventing injury: from the minute you take the bar off the racks, your joints are preparing for the stress they are about to receive , and as the bar lowers, they stretch and are ready to "spring" back, so to speak...


    all of that is bypassed in a pushup......

    if one can do them, fine....but there are MANY who hurt their shoulders with them....

    and anyway: pushups have no place in the bodybuilding lexicon: they are vastly inferior to so many other exercises that we do.......

    a cheap, always available expediency and nothing more.....

    and the primary reason why people hurt themselves with benching is that they try to use too much weight....ditto for squats, and deads and especially curls, and many others....

    you can take a good thing and F@#$ it up....but it doesn't mean it wasn't a good thing to begin with.....
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    Originally Posted by JOHN GARGANI View Post
    and anyway: pushups have no place in the bodybuilding lexicon: they are vastly inferior to so many other exercises that we do.......
    I agree. Closed kinetic chain work would be more in line with what athletic types need. Push ups, pull ups, dips, squats, deadlifts, power cleans, snatches etc....
    "Adapt and overcome."

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    Originally Posted by JOHN GARGANI View Post
    thank you: I have studied kinesiology inside and out all of my life....I know ins and outs of angles and things that people don't even realize....

    in addition to that, I had the advantage of dissecting a human being when I was in Dental school and am completely familiar with what origins and insertions of muscles look like IN THE RAW.......

    pushing AGAINST a floor is not the same as having a bar in your hands above you in the bench.....

    the floor is hard, cold and immobile....and fixed in a single position.....

    it is all about compression of the shoulder girdle, and rotator cuff and certain movements allow more flexibility in that area and some simply don't.....

    also: readiness of the joint is a huge issue in preventing injury: from the minute you take the bar off the racks, your joints are preparing for the stress they are about to receive , and as the bar lowers, they stretch and are ready to "spring" back, so to speak...


    all of that is bypassed in a pushup......

    if one can do them, fine....but there are MANY who hurt their shoulders with them....

    and anyway: pushups have no place in the bodybuilding lexicon: they are vastly inferior to so many other exercises that we do.......

    a cheap, always available expediency and nothing more.....

    and the primary reason why people hurt themselves with benching is that they try to use too much weight....ditto for squats, and deads and especially curls, and many others....

    you can take a good thing and F@#$ it up....but it doesn't mean it wasn't a good thing to begin with.....
    I see that now that we've debunked your original argument, you're moving on. Ok...

    An oly bar is also fixed in a single position (essentially), which is why MANY people hurt their shoulders doing BPs with them--not just because they use too much weight. It is also why doing BPs with dumbbells is considered better for the shoulder joints than doing them with a straight bar (although you generally can't lift as much weight). Moreover, if you do pushups on rings, your arms and shoulders are free to move in a natural manner, similar to doing BPs with dumbbells and more so than doing them with an oly bar.

    As for "from the minute you take the bar off the rack, your joints are preparing for the stress they are about to receive," that's just nonsese. How, exactly, does taking the bar off the rack prepare your shoulder joints for anything? Simply warm up with internal and external rotations, and you're fine for doing pushups.

    Trainers of professional athletes around the world (NBA, NFL, European soccer leagues, and on and on) include pushups in their exercise programs. In particular, gymnastics athletes in EVERY country do them, and similar exercises, routinely. You're telling us that you know something these trainers, who are some of the best in the business, do not? That pushups are safe for Adrian Peterson, but not for you? Please. These professionals have forgotten more about kinesiology, human anatomy, compression of the shoulder girdle, etc., than most of us will ever know. Including dentists who happened to have studied kinesiology.

    Another thing: please do not assume that "we" in this forum are all interested in bodybuilding per se. Many of us have other goals, like general or sports-specific fitness, that pushups facilitate better than standard bodybuilding exercises.
    Last edited by jkinney5; 11-04-2009 at 06:15 AM.
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    Another thing: please do not assume that "we" in this forum are all interested in bodybuilding per se. Many of us have other goals, like general or sports-specific fitness, that pushups facilitate better than standard bodybuilding exercises.

    ooooooohhh, yeah: what a terrible assumption that would be! After all, the fact that this forum is named "BODYBUILDING".com, what would make one assume that most people on such a site would be interested in bodybuilding???????

    how presumptive of me! LOL.......
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    Originally Posted by JOHN GARGANI View Post
    ooooooohhh, yeah: what a terrible assumption that would be! After all, the fact that this forum is named "BODYBUILDING".com, what would make one assume that most people on such a site would be interested in bodybuilding???????

    how presumptive of me! LOL.......
    I said don't assume that ALL of us are interested in bodybuilding. Last I checked, the Sports Training forum had 243,607 posts.

    We're coming close to hijacking this tread. Enough.

    To the OP, I've walked on crutches all my life, so I know something about shoulder pain. At the risk of repeating what others have said, it looks like you just overdid it. Work on increasing your reps gradually, starting at what may seem like an unreasonably low number. It's not. You need to build a good base if you want to avoid further injury. Also, make sure to warm up your shoulders; See "Javorek's Shoulder Complex" on YouTube (I can't post links yet). Do the entire routine before your workout. It looks goofy, but it only takes a few minutes, and it will do wonders for preventing shoulder injuries and strengthening the stabilizer muscles that are vital for BW (and other) exercises.
    Last edited by jkinney5; 11-05-2009 at 05:46 AM.
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    Originally Posted by jkinney5 View Post
    Trainers of professional athletes around the world (NBA, NFL, European soccer leagues, and on and on) include pushups in their exercise programs. In particular, gymnastics athletes in EVERY country do them, and similar exercises, routinely. You're telling us that you know something these trainers, who are some of the best in the business, do not? That pushups are safe for Adrian Peterson, but not for you? Please. These professionals have forgotten more about kinesiology, human anatomy, compression of the shoulder girdle, etc., than most of us will ever know. Including dentists who happened to have studied kinesiology.
    Agreed and on the subject of bodyweight exercises and "bodybuilding", it's hard to argue with the physique of a gymnast who primarily does bodyweight exercises. And also on the subject of kinesiology which my education is in, I am now finding that alot of what I "learned" in my courses of study is now being contradicted.
    You know the saying, " A recent study found that 50% of studies will be contradicted by a future study". hehe
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    Originally Posted by freediverchuck View Post
    Agreed and on the subject of bodyweight exercises and "bodybuilding", it's hard to argue with the physique of a gymnast who primarily does bodyweight exercises. And also on the subject of kinesiology which my education is in, I am now finding that alot of what I "learned" in my courses of study is now being contradicted.
    You know the saying, " A recent study found that 50% of studies will be contradicted by a future study". hehe

    Chuck: I mentioned earlier in a thread about dissecting a human: now, most of the guys had no interest in this particular angle, but a few of us who were gym nuts, went around from "body to body" ( I know, it's gross ) and compared various muscle/attachments/bone lengths, etc.....

    honestly, when you see that, in comparison, you can understand why Kinesiology, as a science MUST be flexible, because there are so many differences between different people in regards to these mechanical levers, that you can readily see why certain people CAN do certain exercises with no problems or more strength that someone else, etc and so on......

    which is why for every thread that someone rants about how he can't do, say, skull crushers, or behind the neck presses, there will always be the one that comes on and says that they have no problems at all....

    similar in this thread, with pushups.......

    but People would be shocked to learn of just what their limitations truly are if they could view their own body ON THE INSIDE and see just why they can't bench like their friends or do this or that, etc........

    recognizing our limitations, "feeling" them , so to speak, falls into the LEARNING YOUR BODY category, which we must do by "listening" intently to what our body is telling us...

    we don't, unfortunately, have an inside view of our specific lever lengths/attachments.....
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