Repetitive Strain Injury/Shoulder Pain



I recently received an arthroscopic bankart repair in my right shoulder to repair a torn labrum. I was in a sling for 6 weeks and was forced to do way too much with my left arm, as my other one was not functioning. Not only did I use it for everything but i remained in the gym and and lifted weights on my left side everyday (because I am eighteen years old and very dumb apparently). I'm not sure, but somewhere between sleeping on my left side every night, doing one arms rows, and doing one arm shoulder press, my shoulder started to feel strange. If I don't move it for a while it gives off a loud audible crack when I do start to move it, and there is a constant throbbing dull ache. When I stretch my chest there is a pain that resembles pinching in the rear of my shoulder. The pain is bearable, just soooo frustrating. I get the worst pinching sensation when I do an overhead tricep stretch. It's becoming a very large ordeal.

Is there any way I can fix this? Will this ever go away?

ANSWER: Hi Josh,

Part of growing up is learning from our mistakes, this is just one of them and I'd imagine you won't do that again.  In any case, your right, you repetitively stressed your left arm and shoulder.  I hope you're not doing any exercises now because it will only make it worse.

If you go to you can read about repetitive strain injuries, and then if you go to the section titled "Muscles and Pain" and "What's Happening Exactly," you can get even more details about the problem.  You will also learn a lot if you go to the Muscle and Joint Pain forum on the website.

If nothing is torn, then you will be able to self-treat and release the tension in the muscle fibers.  The biggest problem is that people exercise and tighten the muscles, but they don't release the spasms before they try to stretch.  This causes a problem because it is like having a line that is 12" long and then tying a knot and making it 11", and then stretching it back to 12" without first untying the knot.  You can see how that would make the knot tighter and it would overstretch the fibers that aren't in the knot.  The same thing is happening with your muscles.  Fortunately the self-treatment is easy.

In your case you would need to self-treat your infraspinatus, pectoralis minor, and deltoid muscles (look them up on the internet so you can see where they are located).  As you read the website mentioned, you'll see how you can learn to self-treat.  If you weren't an athlete I'd say that you could go to a massage therapist and have it worked out, but you love to exercise so you'll be getting repetitive strains all over your body and it would be best if you knew how to take care of them immediately so they will never cause you problems.

I believe you'll be fine -- after you release the spasms that are causing the problem.  The same treatment will also help your right shoulder to heal faster and better.

Wishing you well,
   Julie Donnelly

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you so much. I would also like to ask if this cracking, popping, and consistent grinding is normal or if it's part of a larger problem. I would hate to need another surgery for some damaged cartilage or something of that nature. Thanks again!

Hi Josh,

The odds are it's not serious, but rather than take a chance, I suggest you do all the treatments I mentioned for at least a week, and if it's still happening then go see a doctor.  I personally like an Osteopath since they are more in tune with the entire body, but it's up to you who you'd like to see.

I agree with you that you don't want to do further damage on cartilage, but if the muscles are pulling the bones together, they will cause that sound and the only thing that will work is releasing the tension on the bones.  

Let me know how you are doing after you have treated your shoulder muscles for a week.

Wishing you well,
   Julie Donnelly

Repetitive Strain Injury

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Julie Donnelly, LMT


I can accept questions that relate to chronic or acute pain caused by muscle spasms and contractions. Repetitive Strain Injury is actually Cumulative Trauma to muscles. Releasing the spasm &/or contraction will relieve the strain that is felt at the insertion point on the bone. I am the co-developer of the unique safe-stretching program "Focused Flexibility Training," which combines easy instruction for self-treating spasms throughout your body with proven yoga stretches. I have recently authored two new books: "The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution," and "The Secret to Your Best Golf Game EVER!


Since 1989 I have been working with endurance athletes and individuals suffering from chronic pain conditions. I have authored seven self-treatment books and three self-treatment DVDs and I have developed the Julstro System for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome, Trigger Finger, and other Hand/Wrist pain. I am a national and international presenter at conventions, seminars, and workshops. Principle topics are "Work Shouldn't Hurt," and "The Pain Free Athlete." In 2005 and 2006 I was the massage therapist for ultracyclists competing in the Race Across America (RAAM) 3000+ mile race from San Diego, CA to Atlantic City, NJ. I've taught the Julstro techniques to physical therapists at the Cleveland Clinic, to massage therapists in areas around the USA, and I've taught Julstro self-treatment clinics to dancers at Juilliard School of Performing Arts (NYC),the sprinting team at NC State, and I am working closely with several Olympic-hopeful. We have successfully eliminated the repetitive strain injuries that could keep them out of the Olympic Games, and the best part is they know how to do the self-treatments so they can stay pain-free and flexible.

Triathlete Magazine, Endurance Magazine, multiple national and international trade journals.

Swedish Institute of Allied Health, NY, NY - Initial education in massage therapy Licensed NYS Massage Therapist since 1989. SUNY Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, NY - B.Sc. degree in Interdisciplinary Health Education I was an Associate Professor helping to develop the massage training program for SUNY Rockland Community College

Past/Present Clients
Privacy prevents me from filling in this section without prior consent from my clients. Life Experience: I have been specializing in the treatment of chronic pain and sports injuries since receiving my NY massage license in 1989. A personal bout with carpal tunnel syndrome was the catalyst to my developing a self-treatment that heals the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome quickly and without surgery. My work with endurance athletes was the inspiration to teach people how to self-treat so they could stop pains even during a race or heavy training day. Both of these situations ultimately became the products that are sold on my websites: and I currently treat people in my offices in Sarasota, FL, Cary, NC, or Pearl River, NY

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