Roughly 3 years ago, I had some grumpy shoulders.
I couldn't vertically press without some serious modifications or range of motion limitations.
It stuck around for ~7 months.
I'm now pressing pain free and more weight than I've ever lifted before.
Let's walk through my shoulder pain journey together.
What I tried that DID NOT Work
To get out of pain I initially tried many of the more "traditional" philosophies and thought processes.
2-to-1 pull-to-push ratio
Up first was the classic 2-to-1 pull-to-push ratio training that is recommended by "experts."
They say that shoulder pain happens because we do too much pressing and anterior based movement and not enough rowing or pulling.
So, I started doing a TON of rowing and pulling.
But, here's the thing... rowing and pulling works the shoulder joint in a way that is asynchronous with the pain I was experiencing. I was in no way building adaptations to support and reverse the pain I was feeling.
I was just strengthening muscles on the other side of the body and maybe adding some stability and juice to the joint.
The pain stuck around.
I thought my posture was the issue.
Many experts often point to posture as being the source of pain, therefore I must have an "imperfect posture" that is causing my shoulder pain.
Newsflash - Posture is rarely the issue and there's no such thing as having an "ideal" posture.
I wrote all about that HERE.
So, I made an extraordinary emphasis to stand taller, squeeze my core, and remove any anterior pelvic tilt I was experiencing.
I did a ton of pull-a-parts and face pulls.
I did the Y's, T's, and W's daily!
Guess what? My pain stuck around.
Lastly, I tried simply resting.
I took almost a full month off from upper body training.
Bet you can guess what I came back to... yep, pain still there.
What I finally did that WORKED.
I started applying more primal concepts into my training.
I started using my shoulder in a way that it's more functionally designed to be used.
I added daily bouts of HANGING and SWINGING.
I would hang from a pull-up bar and swing to another one.
I would climb from the barbell up to the pullup bar, and then back down.
I would hang with one arm.
Daily, I would expose myself to a stimulus in this realm - hanging, swinging, climbing.
I started exposing it to CRAWLING.
I would crawl for 5 minutes straight.
Bear crawls, lizard crawls, crab walks... I basically picked an animal and tried to mimic the way they move.
The last big change I made was adding long duration EXTREME ISOMETRICS.
I would hold a deep push up hold for 2-3 minutes.
I would sink into the bottom of a triceps dip position and hold it for as long as I could.
I started doing handstand holds and frog holds.
Within a month I was back to pressing pain free.
Why did this type of training aid in the removal of pain and function of my shoulder?
I tend to think the largest reason for change was simply the DIFFERENT stimulus I began feeding my shoulders.
Prior to the change up, my training was fairly consistent for years.
I never once explored any of these more primal movement patterns.
By adding them into my training, I applied new stimuli and stress to the shoulder joint. This novelty created adaptations within the joint that led to higher levels of function and the removal of pain.
Secondly, I started using the shoulder joint more like it is designed to.
Our body isn't evolutionarily designed to lift weight and spend hours under a barbell.
We are designed to swing from trees and sprint from predators.
We are designed to chase prey and hunt.
We are designed to walk, move, and explore our environments.
Barbells have only existed for a few dozen years.
Human bodies have existed for millions of years.
I am in NO WAY saying we should remove barbells and weight rooms from our training.
I AM saying that getting back to some of our primal roots and training in a way that is synonymous with our evolutionary history is an important aspect of SCRATCH Golf Training.
I use my own experiences to help shape the way I train athletes. I've learned a ton from messing up my own training.
I've learned a ton from helping myself get out of pain and perform at a higher level.
I don't have all of the answers, but together we work towards finding more of them.
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Founder and Head Coach - SCRATCHGolfTraining.com
Carter is a strength and conditioning coach out of the Milwaukee area working with athletes, in-person and virtually. Having helped hundreds of athletes, ranging from the middle school to the professional level and beyond, Carter brings a breadth of experience and knowledge to every athlete he works with. He launched SCRATCHGolfTraining.com in the summer of 2021 to help empower golfers to greater performance and longevity.
Carter believes ALL golfers are athletes, and they should be training accordingly.
Become a SCRATCH Athlete today, and start training like the ATHLETE you are!