Back to Blog

Shoulder Impingement Explained

Nov 13, 2022

When you’re moving your arm around (especially above your head) and feel like it gets pinched, that’s called impingement. It’s a common reason for shoulder pain. It’s when a band of tissue inside your shoulder rubs on a nearby bone and tissue when you move your arm. In this blog post, we’re going to talk about shoulder impingement and how to deal with it. 

What to Do if You Have It

The most important thing for everyone to be doing is to develop healthy muscle hygiene. Just like with dentistry, you need to brush your teeth regularly to keep them clean and healthy. So the same principle applies to how you take care of your body every day by developing proper muscle hygiene. Your body will be healthy overall in the long term. 

Always remember that prevention is better than cure. If you religiously take the steps to make sure that your body stays healthy, then you'll reduce your chance of getting injured and these overuse injuries won't hamper your climbing. 

Exercises for Shoulder Impingement 

When you have shoulder impingement, the first thing you want to do is to have some stretches and follow it up with strength. 

Part of your muscle hygiene is to consistently warm up and cool down. These two are the basics that are going to help your climbing performance improve and keep you healthy more than you would think. With that, here are some of the stretches that I do and I give to my patients to help improve their healthy muscle hygiene. 

Bilateral Pec Stretch

Find a corner in your room or wherever you are where you feel comfortable doing these stretches. Then, put your hands up and make sure your shoulders are in a relaxed position. Once done, you're gonna move into all three planes of motion and you move your body instead of your hands or arms. First, do the sagittal plane. Bend your body forward and backward and do it at least ten times. 

After doing the sagittal plane, you can now proceed with the coronal plane where the movement goes from side to side. You're gonna lean in until you feel the stretch in the pecs, and you're going to move your body side to side. As you lean more to the right, you feel more stretch on the right, and when you lean more to the left, you feel more stretch on the left. Again, you also have to do it at least ten times. 

The last one is the transverse plane. This stretching movement is some sort of twisting and rotation. All you're going to do is draw big circles with your whole butt. You have to do five counts going to the left and another five counts going to the right. 

This is the bilateral pec stretch. Go ahead and try that out. You can definitely add it to your warmup. If you do have shoulder impingement, definitely do some stretches like these and it will surely help.

Unilateral Pec Stretching

Previously, we stretched both of our pecs bilaterally at the same time. This second exercise is doing the stretches unilaterally or just one at a time. Find a corner in your room or wherever you are where you feel comfortable doing these stretches. Whichever arm you’re stretching, that's the foot you’re going to step forward. The motion of the arm in this exercise is different. Instead of the three planes of motion, it's going to be low, medium, and high. Again, always remember the proper placement of your shoulders when you do this exercise. Just keep relaxed and calm. 

Need more injury prevention tips? Join our Facebook Group for FREE weekly discussions for rock climbers!


Ready to Take Your Climbing To New Heights?

In the Austin,TX area? Schedule a Free Phone Consultation!