Back in October I was practicing doing a cat hang and managed to injure my shoulder (I’m 49). It is (was) a new move to me, so I was trying to build up a little strength and stamina by doing 3-4 sets of hanging for several seconds. I had also been doing dead hangs, not on the same days, and had run across a tutorial on proper pull up technique. So on this particular day I was hanging from the wall, and I thought perhaps my form was very good and that I should get my scapula pulled back and down. Upon doing so, I put too much stress on something in my shoulder joint and either pulled or impinged something.
Back when I was 25 or so I tore a rotator cuff, and this doesn’t feel the same. It hurts in a different place, there are many shoulder movements I am still able to do without discomfort, and the pain isn’t constant or as intense. I was able to go on my first caving adventure (Blowing Cave) in November without it really bothering me, but the last 4 weeks it seems to be getting worse. It hurts when I bend my elbow 90 degrees and externally rotate my arm. It doesn’t hurt to adduct my arm, but it really hurts to have my arm bent 90 degrees in shoulder adduction and then try to externally rotate my arm back behind my head. It feels the same way when I try to reach behind my back and scratch the opposite shoulder blade.
I spent the better part of today trying to self-diagnose it, and have come to the conclusion that it is either the infraspinatus or subscapularis, and either tendonitis or impingement. If I forcefully contract my shoulder blades (scapula) together and then perform the painful movements, it doesn’t hurt as bad.
I’m going to do a few very light strengthening exercises using those exact movements, but I will use very limited range of motion and 1-2 pound weights if any. I will also work on strengthening the other scapula muscles (think seated row and seated row with pulley at face level using a rope), some scapula mobility movements (thank you GMB), a specific rehab movement I found using centration and stabilization of the rotator cuff (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfyN1F0HCBk), and working the shoulder muscles I can that don’t cause any discomfort.
Have a Great Day!