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13 Ways to Tell if You Can Train Through Your Shoulder Injury Without seeing a Dr.

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About the Author

 Every month for almost a decade, 100’s of people have worked with or consulted Jamie Bovay concerning questions about a quick end to their pain and how to stay active.  He is a trusted advisor not only to patients and athletes, but several fitness and medical companies as well.

Jamie works everyday with people in their 30’s- 50’s on ways to end their pain and stay active.  He writes on various topics around exercise and sports injuries and frequently lectures on the topic.

While helping patients and athletes he has worked with a wide variety of activity levels from people who are just getting started with an activity all the way up to Olympic and Professional athletes and enjoys helping others return to an active lifestyle.  He teaches other medical professionals around the country on rehabilitation topics revolving around shoulder injuries and rehabilitation.


In this special report, I reveal the 13 Ways to Tell if You Can Train Through Your Shoulder Injury Without Seeing a Dr.  Some of these questions may seem obvious and others not so much.  While they are not the only questions to ask they are a good start.  By asking yourself these questions you may be able to realize if you need to seek out further help.  

The simplest advice many times is the best and usually the best place to start.  The truth is without knowing your medical history I cannot know what will work the best for you and even if I did know the details of the root cause of your pain there are no guarantees that any one of these questions will definitively rule in or out an injury  . 

But over my career I have learned how to narrow down what questions can help with ruling in shoulder or neck pain.  But Imagine this…how great would it be if you could have an answer about your pain and could actually start doing something about it… and in less than two weeks you could have strategies working for you-giving you back the sport or activity you love. How great would working out pain free right now feel?

So here is my challenge to you…Read this plan and get to understand how it helps.  Make your adjustments in your life and see what happens.

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much better and healthier you will feel for doing so.

13 Ways to Tell if You Can Train Through Your Shoulder Injury Without seeing a Dr.

  • How Intense is the Pain?

Pain isn’t a good gauge of injury or not.  You can have a lot of pain and limitations and not have an injury.  You can also have an injury and only have low level pain or limitations.  If the intensity came on suddenly or if the pain is increasing over time then it is something to watch and consider if you need to change your form or if you may have an injury.  With that being said if you think the pain is higher than 6/10 you likely need to modify your workouts and may need to get it looked at.

  • Is it getting better?

The key here is to be honest with yourself if it is really getting better or you are just wishfully thinking it is getting better.  If the pain is getting better than the main thing to consider is your timeframes.  If you have something you need to be 100% quickly then you may need some help to speed up the process.  If the pain is not getting better then you likely need to get it looked at by a physical therapist (you don’t need a referral to see a physical therapist in Colorado), however if it is getting better at a speed you are happy with then you may not need to do anything.  Just be careful not to increase your training too quickly as you recover on your own. 

  • How long have you had this pain?

This is a question we get asked a lot.  By 7 days the pain should be decreasing.  If it is not then this should be considered a possible sign that you have an injury.  By 14 days if it is still hurting or limiting your activity then you likely have an injury.  You don’t necessarily have to stop training, but you do need to get your injury assessed while you train

  • What does it feel like?

Soreness to the touch can just be delayed onset muscle soreness, which is normal after a new or hard workout.  Sharp, pinching, or electrical sensations are often signs of injury and should be avoided if possible and are signs there is something more than workout soreness going on.   

  • Are you able to move the way you want to move?

Not being able to move the way you want could be because of tight muscles or weakness.  However, if you were able to do a movement and something happened and now you can’t then you may have an injury.  You should try to avoid those movements, get yourself checked out, and try to regain those movements as soon as possible.

  • Have you ever felt this type of pain before?

If you have had this type of pain before then likely you know if you are injured or not.  If you have never had this type of pain before most injured athletes describe their injuries as “a pain I had never felt before”.

  • Does it hurt on one side or both sides?  

If it hurts on both sides then it may just be delayed onset muscle soreness.  Unless you have a reason to think both sides could be injured it could just be due to a hard/new workout.  If this is the case a lower impact exercise session could actually improve your pain. 

  • Does your upper body and lower body hurt?

Similar to the question above, unless you have a reason to think both the upper body and lower body are injured it could just be due to a hard/new workout.  If this is the case a gentle lower impact exercise session could actually improve your pain.

  • Does it get better or worse with movement, exercise, or training?

Most shoulder injuries will not get better with movement, exercise, or training.  If this is a new possible injury you should keep an eye on it and not exercise too intensely.  If this has been going on for more than 14 days then you should get it looked at.

  • Does it get worse with staying still?

Many injuries especially of the back and neck will actually get worse with prolonged sitting or standing still.  If your pain or limitations get worse with staying still then you should get your issue(s) assessed.  

  • Have you ever had an injury in this area before?

Previous injury is the number one predictor of future injury.  So if you have had an injury in the same body region before then it is very possible that this is an injury.

  • Have you had to modify more than 3 workouts or skip 2 or more workouts in a row? 

This is our measure of an injury.  So if you have had either of these you likely have an injury.  It doesn’t mean it is severe or that you have to stop working out, but you likely have something that needs to be addressed. 

  • Are you afraid to go to the doctor because you are afraid they will till you to stop training/working out?  

If this is the case you likely know you have an injury or fear you have one.  While many in the medical community think rest is the answer we do not.  Exercise is the best answer for many reasons including improved health and blood flow to the tissues that can speed up healing.  The key is not to strain an injured area.  Modifications, but not ceasing to workout is the answer.   You also need to find someone who will work with you to keep you exercising through your recovery process.  We encourage all of our athletes to continue working out except in the most tragic of accidents, where we may ask for a brief (usually 2-3 days) rest period where you will do specific exercises aimed at reducing your pain.  In our experience by keeping you active we see shorter recovery times and little to no loss in your training progress.

Bonus Questions and Tips

  • Does it Hurt if you move your neck?

Neck injuries frequently present as shoulder pain.  If moving your neck in any direction increases your pain then the neck is likely involved and you will need treatment for your neck.  You may be able to continue working out with your shoulders, but first you need to have your neck screened.

  • Does it hurt down your arm?

Shoulder injuries typically only hurt in the outer shoulder.  If you have pain that goes down your arm and especially goes down below your elbow then the neck is likely involved and you need to have your neck screened.  This goes for pain on the inside of the shoulder blade by your spine as this is another common place the neck refers pain.  You may be able to continue working out your shoulder, but you do need to get your neck screened first.

  • Does Working aggravate your arm?

If you have a desk job and work behind a computer you may notice an increase in shoulder pain.  If you do the pain is likely referred pain from the neck secondary to poor posture while at work.  While you should correct your posture in the short term this could point to the neck as a cause of your shoulder pain and the neck should be screened.  

  • Does using your arm not affect your shoulder pain?

If using your arm does not affect your shoulder pain then the pain likely isn’t coming from your arm.  The neck would be the most likely culprit, but there are other causes.  Getting your neck screened would be the first step to figuring out what is going on. 

  • What’s the absolute fastest way to get back to working out pain free?

This is something we get asked almost daily.  Physical Therapy is the fastest way to safely get back to working out pain free.  We focus on 1 on 1 hands on treatments, work with you on modifying exercises so you can continue to workout, give you exercises to fix your issues specific to you and your pain or injury, and teach you how to avoid this ever happening again.  We have successfully rehabilitated thousands of athletes all while keeping them active and if you will give us a chance we can do the same for you.

Hopefully this has helped and given you some guidance. This content is educational in nature and shouldn’t substitute for an evaluation with a physical therapist or orthopedic specialist who could tell you for sure if you are injured and how to modify your workouts to keep you training.

Did You Know….

You can come see us for free

You don’t need a referral from your doctor and as a thank you for downloading this report we will give you first priority for our open appointments and get you scheduled for a FREE Discovery Visit within the next 48 hours after you fill out the form below or call.

A Free Discovery Visit is a chance for us to meet in person or talk on the phone and discuss in detail your personal struggles with your shoulder issues, what your goals are, and to determine if we are a good fit to help you reach those goals.  We offer these Free Discovery Visits because we understand it can be confusing and frustrating to navigate the health care system and determine who is the best person to help you.

A discovery session is an opportunity to figure out what is the root cause of your pain or frustrations, and most importantly what is the best plan of action to start getting immediate shoulder or neck pain relief to get you back your desired active lifestyle-all for FREE!

Even if the solution isn’t physical therapy we will still help.  As neck and shoulder specialists we can give you the proper recommendations and know how to figure out where to send you to get help.  

The best way to schedule a discovery visit is to fill out this form and we will contact you about scheduling a free discovery visit.  Alternatively, you can call this number (720-651-0674) and either talk to one of our patient care specialists or leave a message.  

Whether you schedule a discovery visit with us or not I would love to hear how these tips are working for you.  Please do let me know how these tips are working for you and if you have any questions by emailing me at   


So, there you have it: 13 Ways (and 5 big bonus tips) You Can Tell if You Can Train Through Your Shoulder Pain Without Seeing a Dr. that you can use TODAY to tell if you can stay active.  We always encourage you to stay active and we are known for helping people modify their workouts when they have injuries.  Keep in mind that this isn’t all that can be done, especially if you are in considerable pain.  There’s obviously more you can do and I could talk for days about the various ways to help you as well as go much more in depth with all of these, but these basics, if you apply them, can make a huge difference to the activities you love and the quality of your life.  Imagine, even with serious shoulder pain, if using these tips could get you back to working out and what that could do for you.

In the weeks ahead I’ll be sending you even more tips and advice on how to restore your active and healthy lifestyle and will share with you how physical therapy can make a huge difference to your life. 

I hope this is the beginning of a great long-term relationship, where myself and the rest of the team at KinetikChain Denver become your go to source for health and activity advice for you and make a real difference in your life.  

Dedicated to Helping You Live an Active Lifestyle,

Jamie Bovay  

Specialist Neck and Shoulder Physical Therapist

Denver, CO


Health Advice Disclaimer

We make every effort to ensure that we accurately represent the injury advice and prognosis displayed throughout this Guide. 

However, examples of injuries and their prognosis are based on typical representations of those injuries that we commonly see in our physical therapy clinics. The information given is not intended as representations of every individual’s potential injury. As with any injury, each person’s symptoms can vary widely and each person’s recovery from injury can also vary depending upon background, genetics, previous medical history, application of exercises, posture, motivation to follow physical therapy advice and various other physical factors.

 It is impossible to give a 100% complete accurate diagnosis and prognosis without a thorough physical examination and likewise the advice given for management of an injury cannot be deemed fully accurate in the absence of this examination from one of the physical therapists at KinetikChain Denver.

 We are able to offer you this service at a standard charge. Significant injury risk is possible if you do not follow due diligence and seek suitable professional advice about your injury. No guarantees of specific results are expressly made or implied in this report.

KinetikChain Physical Therapy

We Help People In Denver Quickly Recover From Pain Or Injury So They Can Stay Active In Their Favorite Sport/Hobby, Continue Exercising, And Get Back To What They Love To Do.


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