Shoulder Pain a Runner’s Nightmare


Shoulder Pain Defined

Shoulder pain is one of the most common ailments that runners experience in their training as well as when they are actively taking part in competitions. It can cause the runner to drop out of important competitions as well as not adequately train which might end up having dire consequences on their career. The pain can originate from different areas within the shoulder. It is in most cases experienced when running and disappears when a person stops running. The athletes state that the pain originates from the neck towards the skull. The pain intensifies as the runner picks up the pace. The pain is as a result of injury or sign of certain types of diseases in your body.

Older Black woman suffering form shoulder pain.



There are various symptoms that characterize shoulder injury in a player. They include;

Pain in the joints- pain is most common in the hands, knees, and hips areas. When this pain is experienced in other parts of the body, it may be an indication there is a problem somewhere.

Pain in the muscles– when you experience some pain in the muscles, it is better to visit your doctor as soon as possible because those are warning signs of trouble.

Swelling in the joints– it is normally painful and it is as a result of pressure in the joints. The joints also become stiff and a cracking sound is witnessed as the bones move in the joint.

Weakness in the hand– it is in most cases gradual and you find yourself not able to grab on objects using your hand as you would normally have.

Reduced mobility in the hand– moving your hand becomes a daunting task and is painful when you push yourself to rotate your hand. The movement is occasioned by a cracking sound.

Types of shoulder pain

  1. Pain in the left shoulder- experiencing pain in this side of your shoulder should be a major cause of concern because it gives indications of serious health conditions. It causes bruising, discomfort even when you are touched a little and forms rashes or bruises on your skin
  2. Pinched nerve- pinched nerve can be described as experiencing numbness which is caused by pressure which has built in the nerve. It can be caused by serious health conditions or just sitting in the same position for a long time. It causes pain, swelling, numbness and weakness making it difficult to move your shoulder as smoothly as you would have wanted.
  3. Upper back pain– this is mostly caused by assuming a bad posture, which causes a lot of pressure on the back and spine. Injury on the back is also a cause for this type of pain.
  4. Shoulder pain after eating– most shoulder pain is common and normal. However, you should consult a qualified personnel when the pain persists.
  5. Shoulder pain at night-this can be caused by sleeping on your shoulder the wrong way repetitively. It can be experience in the shoulder or bicep region. You should consider changing your sleeping position.

  1. Shoulder pain during lifting– if you experience this type of pain on your shoulders, it is a warning sign you are overloading your arm and you should therefore consider lifting lighter loads or taking a rest from that type of work.
  2. Sudden pain– this is normally so sharp and can be accompanied by sweating, weakness with:
  • Twitching at the point of the pain.
  • Pain when pressure is applied.
  • Rashes which do not disappear.
  • Feeling tingling, a sensation or needles
  • Stiffness of the muscles.
  • Pain radiating to other parts of the body.
  • Decreased movement of the hands at the joints.
  • Trapezius strain- characterized by stiffness in the neck area making movement painful or completely impossible.
  • Hurting in the eyes.
  • Headache or a headache that does not go away.
  • Vomiting that is continuous.
  • Rapid weight loss.
  • Numbness of the muscles.


Causes of shoulder pain

  1. Rotator cuff injuries– this are one of the most common type of injuries to your shoulders. Rotator cuff tendonitis is a type of pain that causes shoulder stiffness such that raising your hands becomes so painful.
  2. Bad posture-sitting in the same position for a long time can cause your shoulders to ache. When your back does not properly lie on your surface, you are most likely to experience some pain. Changing your sitting position helps in dealing with this. Some people position their body in the wrong way while sleeping and this can also cause the shoulders to ache the next morning.
  3. Colds or flu– these two type of diseases normally cause a patient to experience pain on their shoulder and other body parts. However, this pain disappears after some time. The pain will disappear after the flu is treated.
  4. Compression of the nerve- this may due to excessive fluids or other medical conditions that affect the normal functioning of the nerves. Building of pressure of the nerve causes pain.
  5. Freezing of the shoulder– the shoulder contains a special type of fluid which is known as the synovial fluid. It is responsible for reducing friction and aiding smooth rotation of the arm. When the synovial fluid is not present, it leads to pain when you move your hand. The pain disappears after taking special medications to help the body regenerate the fluid. It can be caused by surgery, diabetes or thyroid diseases.
  6. Fractures– the spine is made up of bones, ligaments and muscles. Some of those constituents are so delicate and it is possible for any one of those to be fractured without a person noticing. The type of pain you will be experiencing will be felt throughout your whole body.
  7. Problems with the gall bladder– there are two types of conditions in the gall bladder that can cause someone to experience pain on their shoulders. Gall bladder stones and inflammation of the gall bladder. The degree of the pain in most cases is an indication of the extent of the disease.
  8. Heart attack– a heart attack can cause your shoulders and back to ache. When you experience a sharp pain that keeps on recurring, it is advisable you visit a medical specialist.
  9. Narrowing of the spinal canal– this can happen due to age or other serious medical conditions. The condition needs to be treated immediately for effective results.
  10. Problem with your lungs– the pain will originate from your lungs and will reach your shoulder blades.
  11. Herpes zoster-they are a type of rash that appear in a strip or circle. They came about as a result of chicken pox virus.
  12. Arthritis

This is the type of arthritis that affects the spine. When there is pain in the spine, it will cause pain in the shoulder blades.

13. Pain originating from the Neurons – When your neurons are destroyed or worn out, it may also cause sharp pain in your shoulders.

14. Pain as a result of muscles– expanding muscles can cause one to experience pain. Injury to the muscles is also very painful. This pain can disappear when the condition is treated

15. Joint pain– Can be caused due to friction as the bone structures move over each other or when the bone fluid is missing.

16. Disc pain– the shoulders are joined to the body by a pair of discs. When there is not enough fluid or pressure in the discs which causes one to experience pain

17. Injury in the rotator cuff– the common types of injuries are tearing, wearing out a strain. It causes immense pain on the shoulder.

18. Osteoarthritis– this occurs when the cushioning of the cushioning of the bones wears off which leads to increased .

Risk factors

  • There are certain conditions or diseases that leave someone one more predisposed to suffer from suffering from back pain. They include carrying out repetitive tasks– people who are engaged in tasks that strain your body too much is not healthy for your back pain. Loaders, weight lifters are some of the professions where the risk of hurting your back is too high. In addition, poor posture plays a major role in pain and discomfort.  Sit comfortably when working especially when using your computer for it is a common cause of back pain. Bad sleeping postures also causes back pain.

  • Stress– depression and post-traumatic stress can cause someone’s body to ache.
  • People who suffer from arthritis at a higher risk of suffering from back pain than people who do not.
  • Lack of enough sleep, sleeping too much and smoking.
  • Lack of enough vitamins. Vitamin B is important for the growth of healthy bones, when someone is deficient of this vitamin, he/ she may end up experiencing pain.
  • Diseases of the connective tissue.
  • Athletes who are involved in extreme sports such as rugby are more prone to suffer from shoulder pain. 
  • Certain types of occupations such as secretaries, bank attendants, cashiers are more prone to shoulder pain due to the position they assume as they work.
  • People who have recently been involved in an accident.
  • Shoulder pain is prevalent among women with large breasts.



There are two main options that a person can pursue here. They can decide to self-diagnose or they can consult qualified personnel who will weed out the problem.

  1. Physical tests where the medical practitioner looks out for sources of tears, swelling, any abnormal marks and bruising.
  2. Checking your medical history– this is used to identify whether you have suffered from this type of pain before. If that is case, the doctor can order for more tests to be done.
  3. X-rays are used to check out for fractures or narrowing of the shoulder spaces.
  4. CT scan– combines the use of xrays and computer technology to give a detailed look of the bones.
  5. Use of Arthrogram technology– used when doing an x-ray where a dye is injected into the shoulder bone which makes it easy to see the so see the parts surrounding the joints.
  6. Arthroscopy- this is an intrusive procedure that involves an operation where the doctor makes an incision to help him view all the parts that surround the joint and diagnose what the problem is.
  7. MRI-it is more effective than x-rays and can be used to give more details about a specific part of the body.
  8. Impegement- this is a method used for self-diagnosis. It is easy to carry out therefore anybody can do it. It is recommended you ask for help from another person. Assume a sitting position, raise your arm upwards as far as you can. You partner should help you raise one of your arms and use the other arm to hold your body in position. The test is positive when you experience pain in your shoulder.
  9. Biceps tendonitis test- while sited raise your arm such that it is in front of you. Your palms should be facing upwards. Let your partner push your palms downwards as you resist. A positive test is obtained when you experience pain in your shoulder. This is an indication your biceps are the ones causing the problem.
  10. Relocation test- when you rotate your hand in an extreme position and you feel it wants to move out of its place, this is a positive test of shoulder relocation.
  11. Test for AC joint separation- have another person place one of your hands at the back while the other hand is placed on the shoulder. He/she should then press on both the hands to apply. Pressure on the AC joint. Presence of pain between the hands is an indication the AC joint has separated.
  12. Test for rotator cuff tear– you need to use a partner to help you carry out the exercise. With your arm raised to the side parallel to the ground, let your partner help you to hold your hand in position. Relax your arm and let your partner release your arm. If you unable to control the movement of your hand, this is a positive test for a rotator cuff tear.
  13. Test for a frozen shoulder– you may not experience at once but normally occurs over time. Stand in front of the mirror and your partner should help you observe how well you are moving your arms. Raise your arms upward. If your arms do not go beyond the degree to which they are parallel to the floor and pain is experienced, this is a positive test for a frozen shoulder. Another test for a frozen shoulder is standing with your arms at the sides and your elbows at a ninety degree angle. Rotate the arms in a circle. If you experience pain or the arms do not move, you are suffering from a frozen shoulder.


It is advisable as much as possible not to self-medicate using on the counter drugs. You should visit a qualified doctor who will provide the best way forward to treat your condition. They may decide to put you on drugs or operation depending on your injury. There are a range of ways of dealing with the shoulder pain;

Using anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAIDs)

They are effective in dealing with the pain as well as getting rid of the bruising and swelling on your shoulder. The medicines are chosen and are dependent on where the athlete is experiencing pain or has been injured. Drugs such as prednisolone, methylprednisolone and hydrocortisone. However, most of the steroids come with side effects such as indigestion, lack of sleep, weakness of the bones, high blood pressure, mental health conditions. There are other strong painkillers such as codeine phosphate. Anti-depressant drugs are also used to deal with extreme pain.

Tying the injured shoulder

in case of a dislocation, tying the hand tightly to prevent excessive hand movement helps to deal with the pain as well as aiding in quick recovery. Putting a cast on a broken hand and then securing it safely prevents another injury to that hand.

Ice heat therapy where you apply ice on the area where you are experiencing pain and leave it there for 15-30 minutes. Repeat this procedure in shifts throughout the day. It helps deal with the shoulder pain and numbness. Apply pressure on the ice to help reduce inflammation. The ice should not be used directly but rather use a towel.

Hot  compression– instead of using ice only to treat your condition, it may help to try different methods. Using hot compress fist and applying pressure on the affected area is also a good proven method to deal with pain and pressure that has built on a nerve. Alternate between hot and cold and see which one works best. When using heat, boil water and dip a towel in the water and rinse a little then apply pressure on the part where you are experiencing pain. Keep on dipping the towel in the hot water and applying pressure on the affected surface.

Restingrest from using your computer because this may be one of the causes of your pain due to bad posture. Make sure you take a bed rest and watching out not to obtain a bad posture as you sleep on your bed. Make sure your body is aligned in the right position.

Acupuncture– this is a technique that started with the Chinese people. It is a method of dealing with pain by using needles. The needles are delicately inserted into the skin at strategic areas. It helps reduce the pressure as well as eliminate pain.

Using injections-injecting medicines into the affected area is one of the most effective ways to deal with inflammation, pain, pressure and swelling in the joints and other areas of the body. The most used drug here is Cortisone. It deals with the pain and reduces pressure.


When the injury is too painful or too advanced in its stage, the doctor may opt to put you into surgery. Injury is effective for treating a pinched nerve. However before surgery, you should have explored other treatment methods and only after this have failed should you go for surgery. Surgery patients take a lot of time before they recover and time is of the essence in the life of an athlete.







Apart from helping in easing pain, yoga is important for getting rid of stress which is one of the causes of shoulder pain. It also helps in relieving pressure which causes pain and numbness.

There are recommended yoga poses for people who are suffering from back pain

  1. Standing stretch- Stand next to a wall with your finger tips touching the wall slightly. Your feet should be parallel to each other .With one finger on your hip, rotate your arm such that it faces upwards. You should make sure your chest is in line with your hands and begin to slowly lift your chest as far away as possible. Repeat this steps making sure to add some variations to the stretches. Repeat the steps and be sure to go deeper and change the variations for best result.
  2. Seated stretch- while seated,stand supporting yourself with your arms pointing forward and your knees bent. On exhalation, drop your elbows  slightly and relax your chest. On inhalation, keep your elbows in a bent position and make sure to raise your chest with you on inhaling. You can do these yoga poses with some variations making sure to go deeper as you get more comfortable. Repeat these steps until you can’t push yourself any further.

In case of shoulder relocation, it may help to reset the shoulder.

Fractures should be treated and a cast put on the broken part. Use of a sling also helps to regulate movement of the hand which aids in quick recovery.

Ultrasound– ultrasound is a very effective, painless method of dealing with shoulder pain. The ultrasound treatment is concentrated on the areas when the patient is experiencing pain.

Electrical induction– this is effective for opening up constricted muscles and tendons and reducing pressure on the affected area.

Blood tests are effective for checking for conditions such as arthritis which helps in dealing effectively with the disease.


Apart from relaxing the affected area, massage is effective for relieving pressure from that particular area as well as relieving pain from the shoulders. Massage should be done by a trained person in order to apply the right amount of pressure for best results. Pressure should be applied on the muscles which are tense or painful and thoroughly massage them until the pressure is all gone.  Muscle training by a qualified person so that the muscles regain their strength.


Prevention is the best cure and it is therefore important that an athlete takes important steps to prevent themselves from any injuries or exposure to things that may cause them harm. Some of the methods used to prevent the disease include;

Exercise – you should take care not to exert too much pressure on your muscles as this will cause pain or your muscles wearing out. It is also important you do the exercises in moderation to prevent you hurting yourself. It is advisable you carry out the exercises with guidance from your coach.

Taking in a healthy diet– the role that a healthy diet has on the life of an athlete cannot be down played. It is important to take in foods rich in proteins which helps in repairing of worn tissues, reducing your fat intake, eating a lot of vitamins which helps in strengthening bones and taking lots of water after exercise. Taking foods rich in antioxidants is also helpful to your body.

Acupuncture– it is a helpful method of not only dealing with pain after it has occurred or treating a pinched nerve but also keeping your body healthy which helps in preventing diseases before they occur.

Maintaining a healthy posture– whether you are working or just relaxing, make sure your body is well aligned. When sitting your back should be placed on your chair properly.

Physical therapy– it should be done by a qualified and certified therapist for best results and prevent other injuries during the therapy. The number of sessions you take will be determined by how serious your condition is. You should make sure to attend all your sessions without fail for best results.




They are so many exercises for back pain but the most effective ones are;

        1.Child pose 

  • In a kneeling position, stretch your hands to the front.
  • In the same position, stretch your hands to the back.
  • Push your head towards the ground between your knees without altering the position you had assumed. Hold the position for about 30 seconds and repeat for several times.
  1. Sitting rotation
  • Choose your chair with arm rests. Place your right hand on the right arm rest.
  • Place your left hand on the right arm rest as well.
  • Turn your right side of the body to the right without turning your neck
  • Repeat this steps for several times switching between the left and right sides.


  1. Head stretch
  • Sit in an upright position
  • Take your hands and place them at the back of your head
  • Using your fingers, push your head in front towards the chest area until your head cannot move any further
  • Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat this steps for a couple of times taking breaks between sessions.
  1. Stick exercise
  • Make sure you have a straight stick.
  • Stand upright and hold the ends of the stick below your neck.
  • Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat it a number of times.
  1. Chest stretch
  • Stand with your knees bent slightly.
  • Place your hands to your back.
  • Bend your head towards the ground taking care not to hurt your neck.
  • Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat.
  1. Cat stretch

  • Stand on all fours
  • Make sure your back is flat and weight is evenly distributed throughout your body.
  • Make sure your head is raised a bit.
  • Hold this position for about 30 seconds.
  1. Leg stretch
  • Lie on your back straight.
  • Your legs should be touch each other slightly.
  • Raise your left foot at a degree of 90 degrees making sure to use both your hands to lift the foot off the ground and move it in half a circle.
  • Relax and switch to your right foot.
  • Repeat the steps switching between your feet.
  1. Backward leg swing
  • Stand straight with both your feet to the ground
  • Using something strong to support your weight, lift your left foot off the ground and stretch it towards your back until it cannot move any further
  • Hold that position for a few seconds and letting your foot to the ground
  • Repeat using the other foot.
  1. Elbow squeeze
  • Make sure you are standing in an upright position.
  • Place your arms at the back of your neck and holding them together.
  • Bring them to the front with your palms facing each other.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds and repeat it for several times.
  • Sitting toe touch

Make sure you are sitting in an upright position on a padded surface and both your legs are stretched straight to the ground. Your knees should not be folded. Using your fingers, reach to the tips of your toes while bending your back. Make sure your knees remain on the ground. Hold that position for about 30 seconds. Take a breather and repeat this for a couple of times.

  1. Glute squeeze and lift
  • Lay on the front and bend one knee at a right angle.
  • Squeeze the muscles on your bum.
  • Lift the knee upwards.
  • Be sure to take breaks repeating the steps a couple of times.
  • Make sure your back does not lift during this exercise.



Shoulder pain can cause a lot of distress to an athlete.  When it is so serious it can cause an athlete to drop out of a competition which can have dire consequences on the career. It is therefore important that the pain is dealt with as soon as possible so that the athlete can have enough time to train and perfect their art. There are home remedies readily available that one can use to deal with the pain. If this do not work, it is highly advisable for one to consult a qualified doctor who will perform some tests and examine your history and advice on the best way forward. It is important for one to identify the root case of your back pain in order to deal with  it  once and for all.


  1. Staff Writer, Runners Injuries, Physiobook
  2. Staff Writer, Causes of Shoulder Pain, UK National Health Service
  3. Staff Writer, How to Heal a Pinched Nerve in The Shoulder or Back, Natural Remedy Ideas
  4. Staff Writer, Exercises for the Upper and Middle Back, Natural Remedy Ideas
  5. Staff Writer, Myofascial Pain Syndrome, E Health Star
  6. Staff Writer, Self-Diagnosis of Shoulder Pain , Breaking Muscle
  7. Staff Writer, Muscle Pain , Muscle and Performance
  8. Staff Writer, Shoulder Blade Pain, Muscular Injury
  9. Staff Writer, Pain Between Your Shoulder Blades,
  10. Staff Writer, Shoulder Blade Pain, BPStensegrity