Things You Should Know About CrossFit Shoulder Injuries 1

Things You Should Know About CrossFit Shoulder Injuries

Why does my shoulder hurt after CrossFit?
  • Shoulders can hurt for many different reasons. Many of the movements of CrossFit demand a lot from the shoulders, so it is easy for the shoulders to get overwhelmed. Many movements (kipping swings, push ups, snatches, shoulder to overhead, American kettlebell swings) are hard for the shoulders, and the shoulders can suffer due to being weak, tight in certain areas, or due to inefficient technique with these movements.
How do you fix shoulder pain from CrossFit?
  • First, the shoulder needs good mobility to be able to access all the planes of motion required during CrossFit movements. Commonly, the challenges with mobility are fully overhead (think RX for push press). Limited shoulder mobility overhead can be due to a couple things, commonly either lat tightness or upper back tightness, so loosening up those areas are a good place to start. 
  • Second, the shoulder needs a great deal of strength to be able to keep up with the demands of CrossFit. Commonly it’s the rotator cuff, upper back, and lats that aren’t strong enough and shoulder pain would occur less frequently if these areas were more robust.
  • Third, and most importantly, is movement efficiency. You can have advanced mobility and strength, but if you are not performing the movements efficiently, it can still overwork the shoulder. The best way to know if you’re moving efficiently is to check in with a CrossFit coach, or even better, see a qualified physical therapist who can analyze your movement and break down where you might need more mobility, strength, or control with certain movements. 
How do I stop shoulder pain from CrossFit?
  • This completely depends on how severe the pain is, but in general, we need to calm the shoulder down first, before diving into the core issue as to why it became painful in the first place. To calm the shoulder down, we need to get the pain to the point where it is tolerable, does not hurt at rest, and the pain does not linger. How we do this is very dependent on the individual and the specifics of the shoulder pain. In general, the shoulder needs low pain or pain free movement, and to be careful with fast motions and reaching too far into overhead or behind the back motions. 
  • PTs also have a lot of tools (like soft tissue massage, dry needling, joint manipulation, cardio exercise, and others) available to help pain calm down quicker.
What is the fastest way to cure shoulder pain?
  • Recovery from shoulder pain is going to happen on a spectrum. You will gradually be ready for more and more activities over time. The fastest way to move along that path is to remain active in whatever way the shoulder allows you to, and to listen to feedback from the shoulder in that you’re challenging it but not overworking it. For example, if overhead press hurts, do landmine press in low pain range of motion to continue to work the shoulder. The best way to know if you’re challenging the shoulder appropriately is to see a qualified coach who can help with scaling activities or physical therapist who can analyze movement and help build up the system more robustly. 
  • While working on appropriately challenging the shoulder, there are strategies to get pain to calm down a bit to allow more challenge to the shoulder, and therefore faster progress. Some of those strategies include soft tissue massage, dry needling, joint manipulation, and cardio exercise
Should I stop doing CrossFit if my shoulder hurts?
  • There are a variety of movements in CrossFit, and some of them are more demanding on the shoulders than others. You should not stop CrossFit, but you should not do the movements that further aggravate the shoulder. Every CrossFit workout should be able to be scaled, so the best way to treat the shoulder and body is to scale the workout so that it does not further contribute to the shoulder pain, while also getting the shoulder pain addressed by a professional. Shoulder pain can definitely get worse quickly and can be very debilitating, so it’s the best idea to dive into what changes you need to make in order to get the pain to go away and continue striving to meet fitness and health goals.
How do I know if I have damaged my rotator cuff or shoulder?
  • The short answer to the question is: if you are having trouble raising the hand above shoulder height, pain with pressing movements, or lingering shoulder pain I am curious about how the rotator cuff is doing (among other things). The good news is that even if we are thinking that the rotator cuff is the culprit, a PT can diagnose that for you by doing a handful of tests in the clinic. Even better news is that what we do in PT tends to have a lot of success in treating rotator cuff type pain with very high rates of return to your activity!
What are the best exercises for the rotator cuff?
  • There are many responsibilities of the rotator cuff, so the best exercises are going to depend on what responsibility you’re targeting. In general, it will not hurt to get the rotator cuff and surrounding areas to be as strong as possible. You want to do exercises that target the shoulder, including the rotator cuff, the shoulder blade area, and the upper back for the best overall shoulder health.
If you want to know more about how we might be able to help your specific type of shoulder pain please consider clicking the Ask About Cost And Availability button below and we will set up a time to talk with you and learn more about your shoulder(s) and how we can help.

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.


Where does it hurt?"
Tell us and we'll send you our best advice in a FREE tips report. Look below and find the one that's best for you:

jb low back pain orig
jb achy knees orig

Get Your Free Tips Report On TMJ / TMD

Jawpain book

Privacy Policy: We guarantee 100% privacy. Your information will NOT be shared.