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Kettlebell S&S Pulled muscle management

MajorTom76

Level 1 Valued Member
Since April I have been doing S&S with the help of a SF trainer.

Ultimately I professed to doing a TGU with 28 kg and a one arm swing with that same amount. However I seem to be running into a cycle where every month or so I hurt myself and have to rest for as much as 5-10 days. This Monday I did a getup and started to feel muscle pain between my shoulder blades and the center of my torso. The pain was debilitating for a day or two. Picking up my 25 lb toddler and getting in my car was hard.

It’s day 5 and I’m doing better, although I feel some strain doing certain activities. My questions are 1) are these types of injuries common and normal, albeit not optimal 2) Do I still get stronger because of this muscle tear and recovery 3) When should I attempt to workout again?
 

Ap0c

Level 3 Valued Member
Yeah, I was getting strains like this commonly on S&S despite technique I was told was passable. Occasionally with other programs, but much more often with S&S. I know S&S has a lot going for it, but I think you should maybe consider dialing down the volume. For instance, I can do a heavy deadlift session, a heavy squat session, and a pretty voluminous kettlebell ballistic session on 3 separate days of the week, with two other light days in between them (one is a deadlift day, the other is a squat day), but 5 days of swings somehow does me in. Food for thought.

Edit: It may not be that overall volume needs adjustment, but actually you just need to shuffle the volume around so that the frequency is different. Anyway, definitely talk to your trainer about it. One of the problems with constantly reinjuring a muscle is that you can develop scar tissue rather than actual muscle or connective tissue, which is nowhere near as pliable as the muscle/connective tissue. If you are getting injured often, you might consider a more remedial exercise program until your back is really feeling solid. As much as I hate to have a prescription for myself on this (because it means I've made it happen a lot), I usually do a lot of crawling and carries (in various positions as I feel able) for about 4 weeks while I recover.
 
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Ege

Level 5 Valued Member
Sorry to hear this. Injuring yourself every month as much as needing to take a rest of 5-10 days sounds a lot to me.
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
1) are these types of injuries common and normal, albeit not optimal
No :) at least they shouldn't be.
2) Do I still get stronger because of this muscle tear and recovery
There is actually quite a bit of evidence now suggesting that muscle damage is not a contributing factor towards strength or hypertrophy, and in some cases may even be detrimental to it. DOMs is expected with a jump in volume or when doing new movements, but actual muscle damage seems to be a debateable point.
3) When should I attempt to workout again?
When you can do normal movements without issue. There's also no harm in practicing getups with a shoe or something, or, if pain free, a light weight. The blood flow might even aid recovery. So, don't start right back at your heaviest weight bell. Try some lighter weight and ease into it.
This Monday I did a getup and started to feel muscle pain between my shoulder blades and the center of my torso.
Disclaimer: this is a guess at best without you posting a video for folks here to review, but given that you get muscle pain between the shoulders, it makes me think the following:

When you "pack" your shoulders, are you pulling them down and back? If so, don't. The packing cue, I believe, might result in people doing the "down and back" movement, which is not normal shoulder mechanics for any sort of pressing move, and arguably also for pulling. The shoulder blade should wrap around the ribs as you press to the front, and rotate up as you press overhead, not slide directly upwards, and not stay immobilized in one place.

Lastly, if you find yourself in a cycle of injury and recovery, you ought to evaluate what you're doing. If you keep a log, read what you did leading up to the injury, and then adjust things so you're not repeating that. If you don't keep a log, start one. Overall, if I had to give just one piece of advice it would be to reintroduce yourself to training at a lower level and more slowly work up. Jumping weight/volume too much, too soon, etc often leads to these kinds of issues.

Hope it helps!
 

John K

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Since April I have been doing S&S with the help of a SF trainer.

Ultimately I professed to doing a TGU with 28 kg and a one arm swing with that same amount. However I seem to be running into a cycle where every month or so I hurt myself and have to rest for as much as 5-10 days. This Monday I did a getup and started to feel muscle pain between my shoulder blades and the center of my torso. The pain was debilitating for a day or two. Picking up my 25 lb toddler and getting in my car was hard.

It’s day 5 and I’m doing better, although I feel some strain doing certain activities. My questions are 1) are these types of injuries common and normal, albeit not optimal 2) Do I still get stronger because of this muscle tear and recovery 3) When should I attempt to workout again?
Have you talked with your coach about this and your concerns?
 

MajorTom76

Level 1 Valued Member
Reflecting on my injuries I realized the last injury in early June was due to an unstable mat and I slipped and popped my knee on a getup. That was a very stupid mistake on my part and I should have anchored the corners with kettlebells.

Before that in May was bad one arm swinging form with too heavy weights. I yanked my back and wasn’t packing, I don’t make that mistake anymore either thanks to my coach.

So maybe I am progressing and at least not reinjuring myself for the same reasons. My coach has been invaluable helping me not repeat mistakes,

I think @bluejeff might have identified my problem, and yes I’ll talk to my coach about it on my next session. I’m pulling my shoulders down and back and not forward. I’ll work on this on my next session with her.
 

Ege

Level 5 Valued Member
No :) at least they shouldn't be.

There is actually quite a bit of evidence now suggesting that muscle damage is not a contributing factor towards strength or hypertrophy, and in some cases may even be detrimental to it. DOMs is expected with a jump in volume or when doing new movements, but actual muscle damage seems to be a debateable point.

When you can do normal movements without issue. There's also no harm in practicing getups with a shoe or something, or, if pain free, a light weight. The blood flow might even aid recovery. So, don't start right back at your heaviest weight bell. Try some lighter weight and ease into it.

Disclaimer: this is a guess at best without you posting a video for folks here to review, but given that you get muscle pain between the shoulders, it makes me think the following:

When you "pack" your shoulders, are you pulling them down and back? If so, don't. The packing cue, I believe, might result in people doing the "down and back" movement, which is not normal shoulder mechanics for any sort of pressing move, and arguably also for pulling. The shoulder blade should wrap around the ribs as you press to the front, and rotate up as you press overhead, not slide directly upwards, and not stay immobilized in one place.

Lastly, if you find yourself in a cycle of injury and recovery, you ought to evaluate what you're doing. If you keep a log, read what you did leading up to the injury, and then adjust things so you're not repeating that. If you don't keep a log, start one. Overall, if I had to give just one piece of advice it would be to reintroduce yourself to training at a lower level and more slowly work up. Jumping weight/volume too much, too soon, etc often leads to these kinds of issues.

Hope it helps!

Thanks a lot for explaining the “packing”. I was trying to do down and back…

But then how to keep shoulders packed while holding the KB w straight arm for TGU? Or we don’t try to keep it packed? Or do we just naturally raise our arm?
 

Ege

Level 5 Valued Member
Reflecting on my injuries I realized the last injury in early June was due to an unstable mat and I slipped and popped my knee on a getup. That was a very stupid mistake on my part and I should have anchored the corners with kettlebells.

Before that in May was bad one arm swinging form with too heavy weights. I yanked my back and wasn’t packing, I don’t make that mistake anymore either thanks to my coach.

So maybe I am progressing and at least not reinjuring myself for the same reasons. My coach has been invaluable helping me not repeat mistakes,

I think @bluejeff might have identified my problem, and yes I’ll talk to my coach about it on my next session. I’m pulling my shoulders down and back and not forward. I’ll work on this on my next session with her.

Thanks to @bluejeff

I seriously think that “packing” needs more explanation especially for inexperienced or people w English as a second language.

I was suspecting that packing and scapular retraction (down and back) might be different…
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
I was suspecting that packing and scapular retraction (down and back) might be different…
Yes. At least I believe they are.

"Pack the shoulder" is a cue that has been used a lot. Remember that a cue is just a way to get someone to perform a movement a certain way. When I taught handstands in the past, I would use different cues for different people because their bodies were different and they had different mobility, etc., and also everyone learns slightly differently.

I realize that the packing cue has been used for a long time, but it is my personal opinion that it is a confusing cue. We are told to "pack" the shoulder both for swings and presses, yet the shoulder is required to perform a much different task in both movements. For the press, the shoulder blade should rotate upward as you press while staying tight to the back of the ribcage. When you swing, the shoulder blade must provide a stable base for the arm as you swing the kettlebell forward. The common thing between both moves is that the shoulder should be down away from the ear (explained in the second article posted below).

A while back there was a thread involving this. I tried searching for it but couldn't find it in the time I have. I believe this article was posted. I hope it's not too difficult to understand if english is your second language. It does help to explain what should happen, though. It is more complex than the second article posted below.


This is another good article that touches on using different cues to acheive the same goal. It also brings into question whether or not activating the lats during a press is a good strategy. For me, it's not. For others, it seems to help. They also suggest other cues to acheive the same goal.


If a visual representation would work best, here is a picture that might help explain what the scapula/shoulder blade must do when you reach or press overhead. Notice that the top portion of the scapula closest to the spine must rotate down as the portion that meets the humerus (arm bone) must rotate up.

The arrows represent muscles that attach to the scapula. From upper left, moving anti-clockwise, they are:
Upper trapezius
Middle trapezius
Lower trapezius
Serratus anterior
Deltoid
1659792980781.png
Image used is from this paper:

I hope this is more helpful than confusing :)

Edit: If able, anyone with issues training a movement should work with a qualified coach in person. If trouble persists, see a physio. If your coach and/or physio aren't able to help, then I suggest trying different coaches/physios. As that second article touches on, a coach may know the cues to use, but if they don't understand why and how to use the cues, they might not work effectively.
 

Ege

Level 5 Valued Member
Yes. At least I believe they are.

"Pack the shoulder" is a cue that has been used a lot. Remember that a cue is just a way to get someone to perform a movement a certain way. When I taught handstands in the past, I would use different cues for different people because their bodies were different and they had different mobility, etc., and also everyone learns slightly differently.

I realize that the packing cue has been used for a long time, but it is my personal opinion that it is a confusing cue. We are told to "pack" the shoulder both for swings and presses, yet the shoulder is required to perform a much different task in both movements. For the press, the shoulder blade should rotate upward as you press while staying tight to the back of the ribcage. When you swing, the shoulder blade must provide a stable base for the arm as you swing the kettlebell forward. The common thing between both moves is that the shoulder should be down away from the ear (explained in the second article posted below).

A while back there was a thread involving this. I tried searching for it but couldn't find it in the time I have. I believe this article was posted. I hope it's not too difficult to understand if english is your second language. It does help to explain what should happen, though. It is more complex than the second article posted below.


This is another good article that touches on using different cues to acheive the same goal. It also brings into question whether or not activating the lats during a press is a good strategy. For me, it's not. For others, it seems to help. They also suggest other cues to acheive the same goal.


If a visual representation would work best, here is a picture that might help explain what the scapula/shoulder blade must do when you reach or press overhead. Notice that the top portion of the scapula closest to the spine must rotate down as the portion that meets the humerus (arm bone) must rotate up.

The arrows represent muscles that attach to the scapula. From upper left, moving anti-clockwise, they are:
Upper trapezius
Middle trapezius
Lower trapezius
Serratus anterior
Deltoid
View attachment 18662
Image used is from this paper:

I hope this is more helpful than confusing :)

Edit: If able, anyone with issues training a movement should work with a qualified coach in person. If trouble persists, see a physio. If your coach and/or physio aren't able to help, then I suggest trying different coaches/physios. As that second article touches on, a coach may know the cues to use, but if they don't understand why and how to use the cues, they might not work effectively.
Thanks a lot! Will read articles as soon as I can!
 

Ege

Level 5 Valued Member
Yes. At least I believe they are.

"Pack the shoulder" is a cue that has been used a lot. Remember that a cue is just a way to get someone to perform a movement a certain way. When I taught handstands in the past, I would use different cues for different people because their bodies were different and they had different mobility, etc., and also everyone learns slightly differently.

I realize that the packing cue has been used for a long time, but it is my personal opinion that it is a confusing cue. We are told to "pack" the shoulder both for swings and presses, yet the shoulder is required to perform a much different task in both movements. For the press, the shoulder blade should rotate upward as you press while staying tight to the back of the ribcage. When you swing, the shoulder blade must provide a stable base for the arm as you swing the kettlebell forward. The common thing between both moves is that the shoulder should be down away from the ear (explained in the second article posted below).

A while back there was a thread involving this. I tried searching for it but couldn't find it in the time I have. I believe this article was posted. I hope it's not too difficult to understand if english is your second language. It does help to explain what should happen, though. It is more complex than the second article posted below.


This is another good article that touches on using different cues to acheive the same goal. It also brings into question whether or not activating the lats during a press is a good strategy. For me, it's not. For others, it seems to help. They also suggest other cues to acheive the same goal.


If a visual representation would work best, here is a picture that might help explain what the scapula/shoulder blade must do when you reach or press overhead. Notice that the top portion of the scapula closest to the spine must rotate down as the portion that meets the humerus (arm bone) must rotate up.

The arrows represent muscles that attach to the scapula. From upper left, moving anti-clockwise, they are:
Upper trapezius
Middle trapezius
Lower trapezius
Serratus anterior
Deltoid
View attachment 18662
Image used is from this paper:

I hope this is more helpful than confusing :)

Edit: If able, anyone with issues training a movement should work with a qualified coach in person. If trouble persists, see a physio. If your coach and/or physio aren't able to help, then I suggest trying different coaches/physios. As that second article touches on, a coach may know the cues to use, but if they don't understand why and how to use the cues, they might not work effectively.

Second article is great. I think some of my existing over head mobility issues are just artificial cause I was trying to “pack” my shoulders, by protracting my scapula down and back and fix there.

Honestly, packing the shoulder might be a good cue for pulls, and phases of TGU but the very same cue for overhead press is just confusing. When I go back home tomorrow I will just press the bell and see how it goes without trying to engineer the press.

Thanks and best.
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
How is this explanation?
I’m not sure this woman’s background but I disagree with the “back and down” cue for pressing, and especially for overhead pressing. This is because if the shoulders are back (retraction), you are making space between the scapulae and the ribcage.

Think about this: the only bone to bone joint the should complex makes with your upper body is where the clavicle (collar bone) attaches to your sternum just below the base of your neck. The entire rest of your shoulder complex (scapula, humerus and associated muscles) is only attached by muscles.

So if you’re lifting weight overhead, or reaching forward, and the shoulder blade is not in contact with the ribcage, how “stable” do you suppose it would be?

The shoulder blade should move with the rest of the arm. If you reach forward, the shoulder blade should wrap around the ribs. If you reach up, it should rotate up (not just shrug straight up) while staying flush to the ribs.

The first article I posted (iirc) goes over this. If it’s shrill confusing I’ll look for a video or something.
 

MajorTom76

Level 1 Valued Member
I went back to the Simple and Sinister book and found this helpful.

“The objective of the get-up is not simply standing up with a weight overhead, but doing it while maintaining perfect shoulder mechanics. Your shoulder is at its strongest and most resilient when it is “packed”—down and sucked into its socket. To learn shoulder packing, raise your right arm overhead, then bend your elbow to reach your mid-back. Restrain your elbow with your left hand and try to straighten out your right arm overhead. Note that your shoulder has retreated into your body like a turtle’s head.”
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
I went back to the Simple and Sinister book and found this helpful.

“The objective of the get-up is not simply standing up with a weight overhead, but doing it while maintaining perfect shoulder mechanics. Your shoulder is at its strongest and most resilient when it is “packed”—down and sucked into its socket. To learn shoulder packing, raise your right arm overhead, then bend your elbow to reach your mid-back. Restrain your elbow with your left hand and try to straighten out your right arm overhead. Note that your shoulder has retreated into your body like a turtle’s head.”
Yep. You may notice though, that if you push down on your shoulder, as the book shows, you shoulder has to push up. You can even see her scapula upwardly rotating in the third photo. It’s different than pulling down and back. As I said before, it’s a rotation that occurs. You do want it “sucked into its socket” at the glenohumeral joint. But if you pull the shoulder back as you press away/up, you are asking the humerus to move the opposite direction of the scapula, which would also “pull it out” of the socket. Your shoulder socket is not really a socket at all; many physios might compare it to a golf ball on a tee. The rotator cuff muscles hold in on there and help it to rotate in place.

As I understand the term, “shoulder packing,” when properly performed, is not the same thing as “shoulders down and back.” I get that it’s confusing, that’s kind of my point. I don’t have an issue with the actual technique, just that the cue (as we are demonstrating) is difficult to understand by words alone unless you are shown very specifically what to do. I actually like the movement taught in the book.

As you originally posted, you had some pain between the shoulder blades. I can’t be certain over the internet, but I took a guess that always retracting the shoulder blades might be a contributing factor. It’s always best to work with your trainer and/or a physical therapist. You can also post a form check here on the forum and see if anyone has something helpful to say. That’s what I’d do. Hope it helps
 
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