Shoulder Pain?

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May 14, 2008
So here's the deal...

I was swinging bars a few weeks ago and noticed that my shoulder felt weird. Not painful, but weird. The next day I did bars again and suddenly had a pain shoot through my arm and it suddenly hurt to even lift my arm up. I have a pretty high pain threshold so this had me a little worried, but I iced and called it quits for the day.

Normal people would be concerned and go to a dr- but of course I didn't go.

I laid off for three days, but then I had a meet that I competed in. I pulled out all handsprings from my beam and floor routines and did a clear hip on low bar and giant fly away on high bar (not a great routine for level nine rules, lol). It hurt, but was manageable.

I took like two weeks off of bars then, while still not doing any handsprings. Those seem to be the only difficult things with my arm. I competed again, doing the same routines, and still struggled with shoulder pain. Once again, two weeks off pretty much and I competed again today. I took the clear hip out of my bar routine and popped a straddle back in instead. They seem to hurt less because I don't have to throw the bar over my head, which is the motion that hurts the most. In general the pain level has remained the same, but bars is getting harder and more painful to do.

My issue is this- I have Nationals in less than a month. It's my last college nationals ever (not NCAA, a different league) since I'm graduating this May. I really want to compete at it, so going to a dr is not in my list of things to do right now. My family has already booked plane flights to go see it in GA.

Does anyone have any advice on shoulder injuries? I've seen so many conflicting things online. Should I be wearing a sling and immobilizing it for periods of time during the day? Should I stretch it? I've done some pt exercises for it and I ice, but I just need to make it through the next month and then I can relax it and see a Dr if necessary.

I know some people are going to be all over me like, "GET YOURSELF TO A DR!!!" but this could be it for me and gymnastics so I don't want to go unless I absolutely have to. Some people will call me crazy, but perhaps some people will understand.

Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Jan 21, 2007
Baltimore, MD
Well, the best treatment depends on exactly what manner of shoulder injury it is. I know this isn't what you want to hear, but your best bet would be to see a doctor; it may be something curable, it may not.
I have to ask... how would going to a doctor keep you from competing? It's likely that he/she will recommend that you take the time off, but he/she really can't stop you from competing or training. Many gymnasts have competed with fractures, tears, sprains, etc. (Though I don't recommend it!) If nothing else, the doc will be able to prescribe you some pain killer to get you through the meet. You'll also find out what exactly is going on so you can best handle it until you get through the competition. And if it is something simple, a doctor may help you get into a better position for throwing decent routines at the competition instead of having to water everything down.

I don't think that you're crazy. I hate going to the doctor. In fact, I've got a knee that's bothering me right now and I keep trying to wait it out to see if it will heal itself up before going to the dr. But, I never wait longer than 2 weeks, unless I start to see signs of healing. Just go while you still have some time.
I would go to a Dr., because that way you know for sure what's wrong. Then you can know how to deal with it, you may not have to listen to him and take a break or whatever, because it's understandble being your last nationals, and I've had that same situation but with my last meet ever and ankle problems, so I understand. Of course by going to the doctor, you can listen to certain things he says, and working around it. By knowing what's wrong, you can prevent more injury to it, and you can know how to tape it.


Jun 24, 2008
I'm in the same position right now with overuse feet injuries, and I'll probably see you in GA. It would probably be worth seeing a doctor or a therapist; it sounds exactly like the rotator cuff problem that I had my sophomore year, and PT helped it immensely. Anything that involved opening my shoulder was painful (especially toe hechts and back extension rolls, and also tapping on bars and BHS on beam to an extent). I was able to push through it until the end of the season, although they did take me out of the beam line-up because my BHS were getting really dangerous with the limited ROM. I just minimized the repetitions, did absolutely no toe hechts until I had to, and spent the extra time doing PT.
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