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  1. #1
    Registered User xerxes54's Avatar
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    Rotator Cuff Problems??!!

    Ugh, same old, same old. I'm 52 yrs. old, been heavily involved in fitness and weight lifting for 30 years. Anyway, the exercises I love doing the most like clean & press, military press, clean & jerk, deads and pulling movements I'm so limited in doing because of my arms/shoulders. When doing a military press - as my arm comes back down on the eccentric I either feel a clicking sound in my shoulder or it's a little painful. Incredibly frustrating because aside from squats every freakin' exercise I do somehow involves my shoulders/arms. I have varied the load, substituted different exercises, used dumbells - everything except total abstinence from weight lifting. I've researched, read and done rotator cuff exercises and stretches. I take MSM, Glucosamine, Chondroitin and fish oil caps. My diet is clean and consistent. Oh yea, my form in the gym is freakin' impeccable - or at least that's the goal. I'm always working on technique and form - trying always to use the best form I can. Load is - or at least I thought it was - appropriate. None of this throwing a lot of weight around w/o form to go with it. The thing is though that I can actually do all these exercises but I can never go heavy. I will always be severely limited in poundages. My mind and the rest of my body are dying to go heavy!!! But I can't. If someone said you just have to stop til it heals itself - no matter how long it takes - I could deal with that. But for some reason I don't think it will ever heal. And I don't think it's a thing that requires surgery. I mean it's not like I walk around with my shoulder killing me. Is this fixable? How do these world class powerlifters continue to lift with all the injuries they suffer through? Any advice, comments, suggestions would really, really be appreciated. Especially anyone who's gone through this crap and survived to lift heavy again!!! It's like lately I've discovered power lifting - I love it! I want to go heavy, I spend my freakin' life eating well and staying in shape and now I can't even do this stuff!!! Thanks, John (sorry for the whiny rant) P.S. It's like in my heart of hearts I know I have 2 options: either live with the pain and lift very light weights or just stop altogether until whatever the hell my problem is heals itself (if that's even possible).
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  2. #2
    "Darkness Falls" merlinsrealm's Avatar
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    For years I endored problems with my rotator cuff due to a shoulder injury.....

    I was told I would never shoulder press to my full potential again. And for a long time I was starting to think that was true. I would do a overhead shoulder press with maybe 80 pounds and would have pain and clicking in my left rotator...........

    This past June I tried an exercise that I found in either mens health or mens fitness magazine called the swinging sword.........It strengthens the rotator cuff section

    Since adding this exercise to my regimen my workout wieght with the overhead press is 150 - 160 and have maxed 210 without pain or discomfort

    I do not have any issues with other shoulder exercises anymore either.

    I will try to find the article and post it up for you.
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  3. #3
    Registered User IdahoViking's Avatar
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    Have you tried Dangling-8's?

    Take a DB, bend over at the waist and while your arm is dangling 'draw' large figure-8s with the DB. Do the same number of reps clockwise and counter-clockwise. this will help loosen the joint and 'grind' away bone spurs and calcium deposits.

    My PT had me start doing those, I cannot believe the difference that it has made with my shoulder pain.
    Any workout you can walk away from is a good workout.
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  4. #4
    Registered User luvdimtigers's Avatar
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    Same story here, 43, and slight pain in my shoulder, I also hear the "clicking" or actually feel like a hitch in my shoulder when working out. It's more of an ache than constant pain, but it definitely keeps me from going heavy as I'd like, not enough for surgery though. Got to be someone out there with an answer!!!!
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    Registered User Fishhawk's Avatar
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    I have been dealing with shoulder pain for the better part of 15 years. Just withing the last three days I have encountered something new and this morning noticed a red discoloration. I can't raise my arm above my shoulder at all. I think I am finally giving up and calling my doctor. I know this doesn't help you at all but at least you know your not alone. I really do feel your pain.
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  6. #6
    Registered User IdahoViking's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by luvdimtigers
    Same story here, 43, and slight pain in my shoulder, I also hear the "clicking" or actually feel like a hitch in my shoulder when working out. It's more of an ache than constant pain, but it definitely keeps me from going heavy as I'd like, not enough for surgery though. Got to be someone out there with an answer!!!!
    See my above post, your problem sounds similar to what I was experiencing.

    I still cannot lift heavy, but for unrelated reasons.
    Any workout you can walk away from is a good workout.
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  7. #7
    "Darkness Falls" merlinsrealm's Avatar
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    I found the Article on how to do the swinging sword.........

    It's a simple but very effective exercise that I do everyday when I goto the gym before my routine.........

    HERE'S WHAT YOU DO

    Hold a light dumbbell in your right hand and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your shoulders square with your hips, reach your right hand over to your left hip, as if you were pouring the dumbbell into your pocket [1]. Raise the weight diagonally across and away from your body-like you're drawing a sword out of its scabbard-and hold it over your right shoulder, your palm facing up and slightly behind you [2]. That's one rep. Perform one set of eight to 12 reps on each side, then rest 1-2 minutes before beginning any overhead press.

    Drawing the sword activates the rotatorcuff muscles-the stabilizers that protect your shoulder joint from injury and support it under heavy loads-helping you slash through your old max like a cutlass.


    now the article says to do 1 set of 8 to 12 reps on each side.....I do 3 sets of 8 on each side, slow and controlled and with light weight. I started with 10 pound weights and I now use 15 pound weights which will be fine.

    Hope this helps
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  8. #8
    Registered User TWright's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by IdahoViking
    Have you tried Dangling-8's?

    Take a DB, bend over at the waist and while your arm is dangling 'draw' large figure-8s with the DB. Do the same number of reps clockwise and counter-clockwise. this will help loosen the joint and 'grind' away bone spurs and calcium deposits.

    My PT had me start doing those, I cannot believe the difference that it has made with my shoulder pain.
    I suffered an injury to my rotator cuff a little over a year ago and this is the exact exersize I used to warm up my shoulders as well as light lateral raises to warm up the area. Im 100% now after taking it very easy for 4 to 6 months. Thank God im over that one. Extremely frustrating for sure. I feel your pain bro.
    ps. I will never take warming up for granted as long as I live. The kids in the gym stare at me when im warming up but someday they will understand the importance of a proper warm up. I also run a mile before every workout as well just to get the blood flowing.
    Last edited by TWright; 10-13-2006 at 08:27 AM.
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  9. #9
    Registered User xerxes54's Avatar
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    Thanks for the responses. Dangling 8's and Swinging Swords I'm totally going to do. I've been doing variations on these movements lately that I picked up, I think, in some T Nation articles on rotator cuff injuries. I just haven't given it enough time yet. TW - when you say you took it very easy for 4 to 6 months, do you mean you reduced total workout volume or kept volume and reduced poundages? And when doing these warm-ups and rotator cuff exercises should I do them even if I feel some pain? I mean I figure, yea, I'm going to feel some pain but that's okay cause, hell, I have to do the warm-up - just use really light weights, right? But, thanks, I love reading where a guy actually got through this muck and returned to lifting full throttle! It's so funny. I went into the other room a few minutes ago and did some dangling 8' s and swinging swords and it was sort of cool because I could feel my left shoulder going click...click...click. LOL
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  10. #10
    Registered User TWright's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by xerxes54
    Thanks for the responses. Dangling 8's and Swinging Swords I'm totally going to do. I've been doing variations on these movements lately that I picked up, I think, in some T Nation articles on rotator cuff injuries. I just haven't given it enough time yet. TW - when you say you took it very easy for 4 to 6 months, do you mean you reduced total workout volume or kept volume and reduced poundages? And when doing these warm-ups and rotator cuff exercises should I do them even if I feel some pain? I mean I figure, yea, I'm going to feel some pain but that's okay cause, hell, I have to do the warm-up - just use really light weights, right? But, thanks, I love reading where a guy actually got through this muck and returned to lifting full throttle! It's so funny. I went into the other room a few minutes ago and did some dangling 8' s and swinging swords and it was sort of cool because I could feel my left shoulder going click...click...click. LOL
    I stopped doing bench press all together. I went to light dumbbells on all delt exersizes. Nothing done behind the neck either. I actualy had a tuff time doing bent over rows for a while as well. If I had to guess I would say I was doing probably less than 50% strength on the delt exersizes just to keep from hurting my shoulder any more than I did. My wife would get pissed because I would complain and wouldn't see a Dr. I hope you can recover bud. Im no expert but I know Im 120% now because Im stonger than ever. By the way im back to doing all exersizes pain free. I wish you a speedy recovery exerxes.
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  11. #11
    Going for strong and lean jtroster's Avatar
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    Here is my link to a good Rotator Training article. I have been using it since the beginning of August.
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  12. #12
    Registered User xerxes54's Avatar
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    Alright, well, I'm gonna do what I gotta do. I'm gonna do these exercises and warm-ups, reduce volume and intensity, see if I can stop whining for 5 seconds and see where it takes me. And congratulations, TW, on being able to do this stuff pain-free!

    Fishhawk - please get to the doc. And take it easy!!! I don't know what the hell it is about rotator cuff. Maybe we're not supposed to do this kind of work. In a perfect world we all would have very, very, gradually, over time, progressively add overload and volume but that too often rarely happens.
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    Registered User xerxes54's Avatar
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    xerxes54 is offline
    Originally Posted by jtroster
    Here is my link to a good Rotator Training article. I have been using it since the beginning of August.
    Thanks mad scientist. I read the article a few months ago. I need to read it again though. It's inspiring that you've been doing the exercises described in the article since August though.
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    Registered User House72's Avatar
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    I had two surgeries done to my left shoulder, now I have 4 pins in my bone holding my muscle together. After my surgery, I was very sore and tight. I had pain for almost a year after my surgery. It hurt everytime I did any lifting at all. I did all the excersises that were previously reccomended by the other memebers, they are great. I did most of them when I was in thearpy and i still do them to date. Before I lift i take about a good 15 mins to warm up my shoulders, I do all the excersise I learned in Physcial thearpy, I get some funny looks when I do these, but I don't care. I don't want ot be laid up for another 3 years again.
    I would reccomend you see a DR., I mean just to be on the safe side, becasue if its a tear, it will never heal without surgery. i see you take some supplements as well, I would look into taking Cissus Rx, great stuff. I can't see me not taking this stuff ever again. When I first started taking Cissus my shoulder was killing me still, very stiff and throbbing pain, this a year after my second surgery. I began taking Cissus, within a month or so, I noticed less pain, with more flexabilty as well as strenght. i would def look into it tough.
    Good luck with your progress, But if you can, go see a DR....
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    Registered User xerxes54's Avatar
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    House72: thanks, I just did a quick google for Cissus - interesting. I'm reading up on it as I write this. I'm freelancing and at this moment, no insurance so DR. is going to have to wait. Besides, I really wanna give all the other options a fair shot. I need to do all the RC exercises for a decent length of time before I conclude that it's a situation that may require surgery.
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    "Darkness Falls" merlinsrealm's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by xerxes54
    House72: thanks, I just did a quick google for Cissus - interesting. I'm reading up on it as I write this. I'm freelancing and at this moment, no insurance so DR. is going to have to wait. Besides, I really wanna give all the other options a fair shot. I need to do all the RC exercises for a decent length of time before I conclude that it's a situation that may require surgery.
    One of the reasons why I took things into my own hands to fix the pain. No Insurance! Ugh..........
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    Geaser Club Memeber Curds-N-Whey's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Rotator Cuff

    An excellent book to get is "The 7 minute Rotator Cuff Solution" It's written buy a couple of doctors and is basically a very good shoulder rehab program. It also goes into the mechanics of the shoulder and what goes wrong (I.E. muscle imbalance due to lifting). I've used this book successfully to rehab my own shoulder.
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    Originally Posted by merlinsrealm
    One of the reasons why I took things into my own hands to fix the pain. No Insurance! Ugh..........
    Yea, I hear ya. LOL

    Curds: I'll definitely check out RC book. Thanks.

    What became apparent throughout this post is that I'm not being consistent enough with the RC exercises. A ton of people have either solved or improved their RC issues with various RC exercises. And that's encourging as hell. I just need to get on the program.
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    peeple of zee wurl relax! BurritoMan's Avatar
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    I've had some problems with my right shoulder now for about five years.

    This helps me: first thing I do when I get to the gymn is to warm my whole body by doing a couple of minutes really hard on a stairmaster. Then after that I warm up my rotator cuffs like this: I go the cable machine, lower the pulley, select the lightest weight (15 lbs on a divide by two pulley) and get on my knees and do internal and external rotations, 20 reps each side for internal, 20 reps external. Upper arm tight to the body, forearm at right angle moving in an arc parallel to the floor. I found this by a lot of googling and ran it by the physical therapist who has been working on my shoulder and she really thought it would be good, and it really helps to prevent the clicking during exercises and the achy feeling afterwards. Also progressive warmups on the first exercises I do starting very light.

    Been doing this just in the last few months and the shoulder is definately improved.

    Also you should know that if you have shoulder troubles this bad the military press and the behind the neck lat pulldown are two of the hardest exercise on your shoulder, and maybe best avoided. Maybe substitue a high angle incline dumbell press for the military press.

    Also make sure you are balancing your push and pull (e.g. bench and rows etc.) exercises, too much front work will unbalance the shoulder.

    Last thing I want to mention is that getting deep massage work on the shoulder has really helped me.
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  20. #20
    Registered User xerxes54's Avatar
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    Smile

    Thanks for the helpful suggestions, Masfri. Never thought of massage!
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    Registered User wizzard's Avatar
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    I got a rotator cuff injury a few months ago, I do those silly looking exercises as part of my warm up on the arms, chest & shoulder days. I took flaxeed oil when it was bad, and I'm keeping up the cod liver oil going forward.

    I thought that it being a skeletal issue I should have a Chiropractor jerk it back into place. Then I thought naaah I can do that by SHADOW BOXING....it fixed it!!!

    I threw out & retracted LOOSE punches/strikes, not Karate style but the whip like Bruce Lee Kung Fu style. Or if you can imaging a Base Ball pitcher all the energy rising up from the legs first, to the final "flick from the hand" as the ball is released.

    My shoulder gradually gets worse throughout the week... however on shoulder day all I need to do is throw a few punches as part of my warm up (I'm alone in the gym thank god)

    I recommend Shadow Boxing it's cheap as chips too!
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    If all else fails swim.....................Full Range of Motion
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    peeple of zee wurl relax! BurritoMan's Avatar
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    xerxes,

    This link shows in more detail the motions of the rotator cuff exercises I mentioned. I just do them as warmups with really light weight but I believe it would be useful to do them as strengthening exercises too, being careful.

    http://www.findarticles.com/p/articl...19/ai_97390106

    Any of the motions in items 1-3 are what I'm talking about except I do them with cable.

    In this article he even mentions the thing about how the delts and other muscles can get ahead of the rotator cuff, pulling or destabilising, which I've seen elsewhere.

    As far as massage, it has been very helpful for me. If you've never tried it you'll be amazed although every massage therapist has a different style and some are better than others. Personally I like really deep work which they don't all do. You'll probably find you have several trigger points that are very painful, if the person can find them.

    One thing to check out is put you hand behind your back, back of your hand against your back, and slide your hand up towards your head until you can touch the back of your head. If you find a difference from one side to the other you know you have some residual tightness on one side.

    Also I should mention I got a cortisone shot in my right shoulder about 8 months ago which helped a lot, although I didn't want to do it at first. In conjunction with physical therapy at the same time, and massage work, those three things really helped me a lot.

    Also there are two stretches to know:

    first one: put your straight arm horizontally across your chest and pull in to your chest with your other arm just above the elbow.

    second one: put your arm up in the air and then that arm's hand down behind your neck palm forward touching you back. With your other arm pull the forst arm's elbow downward, first arm's forearm against side of your head. this one really helps me
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    Registered User xerxes54's Avatar
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    Masfrijoles - thanks for the article. Just scanning it, it looks like I've been doing the exercises it mentioned but lemme give it a good read.

    Okay, I have an appt. w/my chiropractror tomorrow about this RC thing. It may or may not be in his province but, heck, he's helped me in the past with my lower back issues, so I'll give him a shot about this.

    Ya know, I've done deep tissue message before and for some reason I never felt like it did much for me. Who knows? The other thing that bugs me is that whenever I do RC exercises/stretches it always hurts. I was reading this article on RC today and Eric Cressey is discussing RC exercises from the point of view of strengthening that whole region in an effort to blast through OH Press and bench sticking points. Fine. Makes sense to me. But what if it hurts to do the exercises? I mean it doesn't make sense. It's like I'm just making it worse. I feel like I have to arrive at a point where I'm stable and pain free enough to do the RC exercises without it hurting.

    This afternoon I did squats, benches and BB rows. Squats and rows were fine but, man, when I did benches, it was like a joke! I couldn't lift the bar w/o some kind of funky pain coming out of my left shoulder/upper left arm. And thats another thing: is this even an RC issue? I mean often the pain is coming from the bicep/upper arm area. Anyway, I'm ranting again. Jeez. Hopefully I'll discover another piece to the puzzel after seeing my chiro tomorrow. Thanks again

    Ladarling: I too, have always had weak-ass shoulders. I never for a second thought I couldn't squat or dead a lot of poundages if I just put in the time with steady progressive overload. But for the life of me, even when I thought I had healthy joints in the mid '80's I could never get past 185 on the bench. And I've done a lot of assistance work on triceps over the years. I cannot say wheather or not the 'deep aching pain' you describe is or is not an RC issue. You should start a new thread and get some input. Good luck
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    peeple of zee wurl relax! BurritoMan's Avatar
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    Xerxes, if your shoulder hurts that much when you bench I would go to an orthopaedic specialist and get it evaluated, and try and get an MRI on it so you know what you're dealing with. At a certain level of pain it's probably best not to lift weights or work it out, that may just aggravate it. I got an MRI on mine about a year ago.
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    After RC surgery about a year and a half ago I read about the "broom stick" streches. When I first started them I could just get the broom stick a little behind my head. Now I can go behind my back to my waist. I try to grip the broom stick closer and closer. I've found these to be great for my RC along with the usual RC exercises. I realize that I will not be able to lift the heavy weight like I used to but I have no problem with that anymore. I concentrate on form and staying injury free for as long as I'm physically able to.
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    peeple of zee wurl relax! BurritoMan's Avatar
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    Xerxes,

    I went to the gymn yesterday for leg day and worked in some rotator cuff exercises with very light weights. Today is the best my shoulder has felt in a long time!

    These are the ones I did, they are same as what I described but here are links showing them:

    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/...lRotation.html
    and
    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/...lRotation.html

    Started with the lowest weight (15 lbs with divide by two pulley) for warmup of 20 reps then did three sets of 8 reps of the next highest weight (20 lbs on div by two pulley) alternated in with my leg stuff.

    Really light weights but wanted to start low, in no hurry.

    Didn't do any other upper body work except this and I can tell you I definately got some result out of this. Think I'm onto something here and will keep doing this on leg day now.
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  28. #28
    When in doubt, mumble namtrag's Avatar
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    Get your bicipital tendon checked out by a sports chiropractor, or a doc. My apparent rotator cuff problems were actually tendinitis in that tendon. It ached right above my armpit about 2 inches. The doc told me that a lot of times this gets misdiagnosed as rotator cuff. Just a suggestion, may not be your case at all.

    Hope it gets better!
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    Masfrijoles - first of all congratulations on your improved shoulder condition!!!! Yes!! I love it!!! I know how you feel - and you are on to something. Keep it up. Your attitude of not being in a hurry can only serve you. And thanks for the RC exercise links. exrx is an awesome site.

    namtrag - thanks and noted.

    So I saw my chiro yesterday. Without being too hyper and crazy I basically told him, look I want to lift heavy weights, so, please, no lectures about the hazards of weight lifting - just tell me what the hell I have to do to lift heavy. He's like cool, let's get to it. So he asks me 10,000 questions then starts poking around, basically doing a shiatsu or therapeutic massage on my shoulders, arms, chest and back. He tested my ROM for legs, and arms and said I had good ROM and grip strength. Also said my issue is most likely a sprain/strain of my left bicep muscle/tendons/ligaments. Do I really have RC issues? Well, I don't know. I really don't. Much of the pain I experience is in my left forearm/bicep as opposed to shoulder per se, but then again I do have that clicking going on on the eccentric. Anyway, long story short, I felt better leaving and sort of decided to hold off on an MRI for now - besides I have no insurance. Okay, so that's yesterday. Today I go to the gym and do my usual Wed. workout which is Squats/standing military press/deads. Well, son of a bitch, I couldn't believe it. I actually got through the workout w/o much pain, but most importantly I had no post workout pain! But I also took about 10,000 precautions before I worked out.
    Had my usual breakfast of 3 whole eggs, 3 whites, a cup of oatmeal and some strawberries, then about 30 min. before t-off, I took 2 Tylenol and ate an apple. When I get to the gym I'm happy as hell cause it's pretty empty and that gorgeous squat rack is just sitting there waiting for me. I'm really relaxed in my mind, very concentrated. And I'm not in a hurry. And I'm gonna just sneak up on this bad boy, ya know? I'm gonna be so damned subtle - just sneak up on those muscles. So I start with squats - ass to grass - lot's of warm up sets. Lot's. One thing I've discovered for myself is that the key for a guy my age (52) is lots and lots of warm up sets but ONLY 3-5 reps per set. That way I'm sneaking up on those work sets and volume's not killing me. Plus, I give it a good 1-4 minutes between sets. Hell, I HAVE too. It's the only way I can keep from injuring myself!!! If that's what it takes to add weight to the bar by the time I'm doing worksets or trying for PR's - so be it!!! Then it's on to standing military presses just like the above - calm, focused, relaxed, not in a hurry. Form, form, form - it's everything at this age!!! Calm, strong, focused concentrics and eccentrics - you're discovering as you go along - you're feeling everything - hyper aware of the body handling the weight, breathing in sync. Little things I pick up from these threads, some kid yesterday said after the bar clears your head on the concentric, move your head forward a bit. Also, really engage your core. Make those abs work for you. Feel the power in your core and let it stabilize your body creating an awesome foundation to power that barbell up. All these things add to the experience and keep my stupid ass from getting injured - usually. LOL! Then it's on to deads - god, I LOVE deadlifts!!! I don't know what the hell it is but something about just pulling that mean-ass barbell up and I don't mean jerking it up. And at the end of each rep that BB rests of the floor, then up again - very, very deliberate, concentrated pulling up using the core, legs, ass, back and arms, shoulders and breath. god, what an awesome movement!

    Anyway, that's my little story. I'm not doing any assistance work now but will return to my beloved weighted dips and tri extensions next week. Here's my workout today. Just to give you an idea of how many warm up sets I do.

    Squats
    Bar x 5 x 2
    95 x 3 x 2
    135 x 3
    155 x 3
    185 x 3
    205 x 3
    225 x 5
    135 x 8

    Military Press
    bar x 5 x 2
    65 x 3
    65 x 5
    75 x 3
    75 x 4
    85 x 5
    95 x 5
    105 x 3

    Deads
    bar x 6 x 2
    95 x 5
    135 x 5
    155 x 5
    185 x 5
    205 x 3
    225 x 3
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  30. #30
    peeple of zee wurl relax! BurritoMan's Avatar
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    xerxes - Sounds good! Kudos to namtrag who called that one just right. Sounds like you have a good chiro. I have a good chiro too... I guess when you get to a certain age you need one... my shoulder is still feeling good, as good as it has in maybe two years, loose, hardly any ache/discomfort, and I did chest/back/shoulders yesterday so that's pretty good. Try arnica oil on the skin around the sore tendon and twist the biceps muscle belly sideways between thumb and fingers of your right hand - stretch the bicep out, multiple time per day. I've learned this from my wife who is a very good massage therapist. I'm tall and lanky by nature which is the body type that has the most tendon tightness so I have to pay special attention to tendon stuff. Good luck.
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