Guide to Physical Therapy for Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Guide to Physical Therapy for Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

shoulder pain from weightlifting

February 24, 2024

physiotherapy for arm and shoulder pain

Shoulder impingement syndrome (SIS) is a common injury among weightlifters, caused by repetitive overhead movements that compress the tendons and bursa surrounding the shoulder joint. While frustrating, physical therapy (PT) offers a powerful path to recover from shoulder impingement syndrome, helping you regain pain-free movement and return to your lifting routine.


Common causes of SIS in weightlifters


  • Improper form
    Repetitive overhead movements with incorrect mechanics can overload the shoulder joint.
  • Muscle imbalances
    Weak rotator cuff muscles or tight chest muscles are one of the most common shoulder impingement causes.
  • Excessive weight or volume
    Lifting weights beyond your current strength or exceeding recommended training volumes can put undue stress on the shoulder. If you feel sudden shoulder pain from weightlifting, during training or an event, stop the activity and consult a specialist immediately.
  • Previous injuries
    Old injuries can leave scar tissue or weaknesses, increasing susceptibility to SIS.

PT for Post-Weightlifting SIS


As you may already know, shoulder impingement recovery time may differ based on different factors, including the extent of the injury and treatment methods used. Your physical therapist will conduct a thorough evaluation, assessing your range of motion, strength, pain levels, and lifting technique. Based on this, they will design a personalised treatment plan to:

  • Reduce pain and inflammation

Manual therapy techniques like massage and joint mobilisation can ease pain and improve flexibility. Modalities like ice and heat can further reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Restore range of motion

Gentle stretches and exercises will gradually increase your shoulder’s range of motion, allowing pain-free movement.

  • Strengthen key muscles

Specific exercises will target your rotator cuff muscles, deltoids, and scapular stabilisers, improving overall shoulder stability and strength.

  • Improve technique

Your PT will analyse your lifting form and recommend adjustments to prevent future impingement. They may also prescribe specific exercises to address any muscle imbalances contributing to your injury.


Additional Considerations:


  • Start with gentle exercises and gradually increase intensity and complexity as you progress.
  • Communicate any pain to your PT immediately. They can adjust your program or recommend pain management strategies.
  • Adherence to your home exercise program is crucial for long-term success.
  • Communication with your coach: Inform your coach or trainer about your PT recommendations to ensure your training program aligns with your recovery.


PT goes beyond simply treating the injury. Your therapist can also:


  1. Educate you on proper lifting techniques which can help prevent future injuries and promote safe weightlifting habits.
  2. Help you develop a sustainable training program to ensure you return to lifting safely and effectively.
  3. Recommend lifestyle modification to address factors like sleep, nutrition, and stress management that can impact recovery.

Keep in mind that recovering from SIS requires patience and dedication. Working with a qualified PT from Scandinavian Physiotherapy Center DMCC can significantly accelerate your recovery, equip you with the knowledge and tools to prevent future injuries, and empower you to return to weightlifting with confidence and strength.