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Old 10-24-2009, 08:51 AM   #1
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Default Rotator Cuff Injuries and Weight Training

Let's talk rotator cuff injuries.

Glwanabe mentioned this to me and I thought it was a great topic. We were talking about upright rows, and the possibility that they are bad for the RC and shoulders.

Personally, I've never felt anyone uncomfortable with upright rows, but when I perform side/front raises for shoulders, I feel my shoulders/RC hating me.

A) Do you feel upright rows are bad for the shoulder/RC

B) DO you feel laterals are bad for the shoulder/RC

C) Do you perform any exercises to strengthen the RC?

I used to perform some arm rotations with bent elbows and a lighter dumbbell for the RC, but I often wondering if they were just doing more harm then good. (Cuban presses)

Here are some quotes from various websites:

Unfortunately with upright rows, it is not a question of IF you will hurt your shoulders but WHEN you will hurt your shoulders.

The position that your arms get placed in when doing the upright row causes what is called "impingement". Essentially this means that every time you raise the bar up, the bones in your shoulders pinch the tendons in your rotator cuff. This can cause instant pain in some people (myself included - I can't even do the movement without weight without hurting) but will inevitably lead to long-term degeneration of the structures of the shoulder joint.

I would stay far away from this movement. It can end your training career if you do it heavy and often.
Upright rows place the shoulder in full internal rotation as the arm is raised, a position that does not allow sufficient space for the greater tubercle of the humerus to clear the acromion. This causes an impingement syndrome in the A/C joint and leads to chronic tendinitis or bursitis. it is also a major contributor to rotator cuff problems. It is no longer taught at all in most college programs leading to Phys Ed or Kinesiology degrees. It is a dangerous exercise that is still being passed down by the old timers and the muscle mags, but it unfortunately being taught in group exercise classes by group exercise instructors who do not have a solid background in weight-lifting and/or have not kept up with current research in strength training. The ACSM advised against this exercise about 8 years ago, and I also remember there being a blurb about it in one of the ACE mailers a few years back. I personally have been one-on-one with over 500 individuals in my ten years of training, and I would estimate that less than 30% of them have full range of movement in the shoulder...the vast majority have some degree of shortening in the internal rotators. Spread the word
The Upright Row is one of the most harmful exercises you can expose your shoulders to. The problem with the exercise lies in the position your arms must be in in order to perform the movement. This position is called "internal rotation."

To demonstrate internal rotation, hold your arms straight out to the sides with your palms down. Now rotate your hands forward as if you were pouring out a glass of water in each. To do the upright row, the arms are bent at the elbow then internally rotated.

Internal rotation itself is not necessarily bad for your shoulders. The problem comes when you raise the arms up and add resistance in that position. Every time you raise the weight, a small tendon in your shoulder gets pinched (known as impingement) by the bones in the shoulder.

This may not hurt immediately; it may not even hurt for a long, long time. The problem is the tendon will gradually become worn down and damaged. You may not even know you have a problem until one day the tendon snaps!

Destroy That Which Destroys You

"Let bravery be thy choice, but not bravado."

Last edited by BendtheBar; 10-24-2009 at 09:07 AM.
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