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Muscle soreness is part and parcel of bodybuilding training. When you work a muscle and lift heavy weights, the muscle tissue breaks down in order that it can repair itself and grow bigger and stronger. Sometimes soreness can be more than just muscle breakdown, though, and may require a little more attention to rectify and treat.
Rest, Ice and Stretching
If your soreness is purely down to working the shoulder muscles, it's known as delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. This occurs when you introduce a new stimulus into your training schedule, such as trying a new exercise, performing exercises in a different order or slowing down the tempo of your repetitions. Your body will adapt, and this soreness should be gone within two to three days. In the meantime, applying ice to your shoulders, stretching them and not working them directly will help relieve the soreness a little, advises the American Council on Exercise.
Your training schedule could be the cause of your shoulder soreness. Your shoulder joint is a ball and socket, and the deltoid muscles around it perform a wide range of movements. This means your shoulders work not only when you train them directly but also when you perform chest exercises, such as bench presses and dips, or back exercises, such as chinups and pulldowns. This may impact your training, so leave at least one day of rest between your shoulder, chest and back sessions.
Using bad technique is a surefire way to make your shoulders flare up. Chinups is one exercise that is commonly performed incorrectly, according to strength coach Eric Cressey. If you overextend and pull your arms forward at the top of a chinup, you create extra stress on your shoulder muscles and joints. Poor rotator cuff stability is also a major cause of shoulder pain. To balance out your rotator cuffs, match each set of a pushing exercises -- bench presses, pushups, dumbbell presses, flyes, dips and overhead presses -- with a pulling movement, such as dumbbell, barbell or cable rows, face pulls or inverted rows.
If your shoulders get sore the day after you've trained them, it's highly likely that it's DOMS. If, however, you feel acute soreness during the session or immediately after, it may be an injury. Common acute shoulder injuries include instability or dislocation, if the joint has slipped out of place, or an impingement of the rotator cuff muscles, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. If your shoulder soreness persists, visit your doctor or seek advice from a physical therapist.