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HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsGeneralGeneralShoulder painShoulder pain
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1/4/2021 6:26 PM
 

I started Rucking and some bodywieght exercises during the pandemic.   Around the same time, I devleoped a low level shoudler pain when lifting my right arm out to the side.  I had assumed it was tweaked from dong pushups wrong.   I went to about 2 months of PT and build up my shoudler strength and the pain went away.   Around the same time, I didn't so much rucking.     Recently, I did a few rucks (30lbs, 2.5miles) and my shoulder pain came right back.   I'm using a cheap North face school packpack with a few pieces of slate in there for weight.   I never associated rucking with a possible source of this issue untill I googled it.   I saw that rucking can cause shoulder pain.    I'm not convinced that 30lbs for 2.5 miles can cause the pain but I guess it's possible?.  Does anyone have any thoughs on this or similar experience.  WIll a HPG pack make difference?   Is it common for rucking to cuase lingering pain in the shoulder or would it be obvious when wearing the pack that something is not right?

 
New Post
1/5/2021 4:59 AM
 

One thing you might try is swapping out, say, a 25-lbs bag of dog foot etc. for the slate as a training weight--the current load might be shifting to the point where your shoulders are being torqued as one side takes more weight.  (Of course, you should also note whether your hip belt is positioned correctly and/or is slipping.)

That said, a lot of people consider the HPG shoulder harness and Prairie Belt to the best around--if you have a recurring structural issue I'd certainly give their suspension system a try.

 

 
New Post
1/5/2021 7:34 AM
 
It sounds like you already got a docs opinion and did PT to address any mechanical issues, which is excellent.

The short answer is yes it very much can. The long answer is that the human body is very poorly designed to carry weight. Above the hips you are relying on a single column to support all the weight structurally and any weight unevenly placed can cause pressure on that shoulder and the lower back. Add to that issue is the fact the best load location would be centered in your pelvis, which obviously isn't available means you are left with carrying weight external to your body around the outside of your hips and most especially on your lumbar curve. Sure you can build up your muscles (core and what not) to support more weight above the hips, but the reality is that only goes so far. While it varies from person to person, over about 20-25 lbs you definitely want to be carrying the weight on your hips using a properly designed waist belt. Personally over about 15 pounds I like to add a waist belt. You don't say if you are using a waist belt or not, but based on the school backpack description I am guessing not.

The other issue is that most school packs have straight, narrow straps, which can also cause shoulder pain on their own as weight increases. There is a reason that we use a harness that is more of a yoke and designed to spread the weight over the largest area possible. It is also curved to avoid pressure points in your neck and arms. Without knowing more it is hard to tell if you are experiencing shoulder pain from something else or just the pressure point weights.

Finally, like any weight exercise it is best to increase weight gradually.

Personally, I also use real loads and not just artificial weight. That means I pack the pack the way I intend to carry it and then just carry it. If I want a bit more weight I add more water because it is useful and depending on time of year may be needed anyway.

To sum up the long winded answer, for that kind of weight I would strongly recommend at a minimum a properly designed waist belt, and yes our harness would also help. If you have a damages shoulder weight on our hips is going to be key. I also recommend ditching artificial weights and using a true load out, or if you have to like was suggested a bag of something that can be strapped in well. We use beans in the shop for weight in packs for folks to try on.

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
New Post
1/5/2021 2:42 PM
 

Age, past injuries, height/weight, and strength and conditioning background would be helpful in diagnosing the cause of your shoulder pain.

I have a bit of experience getting NG SF guys ready for SFAS, so I know a bit about this subject.  All of our guys used an ALICE pack with a frame that has adequate shoulder straps but not a real weight bearing hip belt.  I don't remember any shoulder ailments traceable to rucking, and I'm an SF Medic who knows how to evalute a shoulder for ROM (range of motion).

Pain while laterally raising the straighten arm from hip to overhead is often related to an issue in the AC (acromion/clavicular) joint.  This can be caused by a fall or impact to the shoulder.

 

 
New Post
1/5/2021 5:40 PM
 

Thanks for your replies guys.    A few follow up point,    Indeed I did see a Dr. and PT to address the issue.  Thankfully there are any major structural issues found.   

As speculated, the "school" bag I am using doesn't have a hip belt per see.   It's a 1" web with a buckle that I don't even use all the time.  It does take some load so maybe I should .   That said, your posts hilghlited the need for a better bag to support the load.   I will also find a better load instead of a slate rock!   I like the ideas you proposed!

 

With regard to the cause, I agree that it may not be rucking related.   It may be that it was caused by other means but that the inadequate bag irriateds it and brings it back.   I will keep an eye on it as I get back into it with a better bag.   

Many thanks for taking the time to reply to me.

 
New Post
1/5/2021 5:50 PM
 

Is the AC joint related to the suprasonatus muscle?   The PT therpist thought that was the area that needed strengthening.    Strangly, the pain is in the muscle on the top of my arm rather my shoulder where the superspantus is located.  They said it was because it is reffered pain.  Im not sure what to beleive frankly.   Thankfull it's getting better if I lay low and let it rest.  I need to go slow.   By the way, I'm 51, 6'2", 205.

I love rucking as a workout and hope that I can get back into it!

 
New Post
1/5/2021 7:37 PM
 
I pretty much second everything that has already been said. I am a walking shoulder injury. From the supraspinatus, to the rotator cuff(s), to bone spurs, to bicep reattachment...and one of the main reasons I've gone from a 4 o'clock carry to more of an appendix area carry daily. That all said, the HPG yoke is the way. Bar none. That plus the prairie belt and if it can be carried, that's the rig that will do it in as comfortable a rig as you will get. And yeah, I'm biased. But I've earned it.
 
New Post
1/5/2021 7:57 PM
 

The supraspinatus muscle originates on the upper/outer surface of the shoulder blade (above the spine you can palpate on your upper back).  It inserts on the upper portion of the humerus and runs pretty much through the AC (Acromio-Clavicular) joint (point of the shoulder, where the collar bone and tip of the scapula meet).

This is one of the four major muscles of what is referred to as the rotator cuff.  People say lifting weights doesn't strengthen these, which is BS.  The single most effective exercise to strengthen these muscles is an overhead barbell press with a "shrug" at the end.  Try to touch your deltoids to your ears.

Since you are post injury this might better to use dumbells and take it easy for a couple of months.  Slowly increasing the weight.  Try 3x10 reps. Pick a weight that is easy to do these sets with at first, 3 days/wk.  Remember, don't overdo it at first.  Think of it as something between PT and a full on gym routine

I'd recommend getting an ALICE pack for PT workouts.  That bookbag you're using I'd wager makes that strap run over your traps and right across that supraspinatus like a piece of rope.  Might be pressing on a nerve.  An ALICE pack has a pad across your upper back.  The shoulder strap fastens to the top of the frame.  An HPG pack with a waistbelt would take the weight off of your shoulders would wouldn't help strengthen them.

 
New Post
1/6/2021 6:25 AM
 
My take is to keep doing what your Doc/PT said to do to strengthen the shoulder, and carry a decent pack. I am not sure why you would spend money on a substandard pack or ignore good load carriage with just the goal of strengthening your shoulder when you are already on a program. If you have to train to ruck with an Alice then it would make sense, but absent that requirement, seems like the wrong route to take. If money is tight go to your local used gear store and buy pretty much any pack from the 90s and it will be so much better than an Alice and what you are currently using that it will make a huge difference. The Alice was designed around a core set of requirements, and unless you have to conform to those core set of requirements it is a very poorly designed pack for load carriage. There is a reason folks who have to carry them spend a lot of time and money trying to make them better, when the best way to make them better is to use a better pack, and that the folks who have the option do exactly that.

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
New Post
1/6/2021 6:29 AM
 
Scot is exactly right.
Alice packs blow. I pray for my enemy to have to carry an Alice. Junk.
 
New Post
1/6/2021 3:01 PM
 
 If money is tight go to your local used gear store and buy pretty much any pack from the 90s and it will be so much better than an Alice and what you are currently using that it will make a huge difference. The Alice was designed around a core set of requirements, and unless you have to conform to those core set of requirements it is a very poorly designed pack for load carriage. There is a reason folks who have to carry them spend a lot of time and money trying to make them better, when the best way to make them better is to use a better pack, and that the folks who have the option do exactly that.
 
I disagree with just about everything above, the only thing that makes a "modern" pack (like the 90's packs mentioned) "better" than an ALICE is the fact that packs of 50liters or larger had/have a fairly well designed waistbelt to support half or more of the load directly on your hips.  This is a GREAT thing if you are wearing a heavy pack all day on the trail, but I don't agree that it does anything for a ruck used for conditioning.  Why miss the opportunity to acquire increased upperbody strength?  That is like spending an hour or two in the gym and avoiding the squat rack, which sadly, is the norm.

 

 
New Post
1/6/2021 4:50 PM
 
El Mac wrote:

Alice packs blow. I pray for my enemy to have to carry an Alice. Junk.
 
 
Mac, the green tick separates the men from the boys :)  A Down East frame actually makes an ALICE sort of comfortable.  I wish I'd have had one for my 21yrs of humping one.

 

 
New Post
1/6/2021 5:56 PM
 
How many guys do you know with a messed up lower backs from carrying to much weight shoulder only, or who tweaked it while under an Alice? If you like them so much why do you wish you had a different frame that still only makes it sort of comfortable

I am all about a full body work out, but carrying an Alice isn't the way to get it in my opinion.

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
New Post
1/6/2021 5:59 PM
 
I pinched a nerve in my back in Ranger School humping that shit Alice garbage. It still flares up from time to time. I'll repeat, Alice packs blow. They belong in a museum and/or an Army/Navy store. Utter trash.
 
New Post
1/6/2021 7:18 PM
 
scothill wrote:
How many guys do you know with a messed up lower backs from carrying to much weight shoulder only, or who tweaked it while under an Alice? If you like them so much why do you wish you had a different frame that still only makes it sort of comfortable

Lots of 'em, because they carried 100 pounds in them.  Most guys my age are broke up because we ran too much and didn't spend enough time under a barbell.  If someone can't carry 25 to 40 pounds for an hour or so without a waistbelt they REALLY need to stop rucking/running and learn to squat, press, deadlift and clean.

 

 
New Post
1/7/2021 6:02 AM
 

I am getting older but still excercise and try to stay strong. I work hard a lot of the time. One thing I do now more than ever is use my brain instead of my brawn. I will never carry any pack regardless of size without a good waist belt. Did it in my younger days and it was dumb. I won't do it ever again.

 
New Post
1/7/2021 6:05 AM
 

Oops. Redundant and deleted

 
New Post
1/7/2021 10:20 AM
 
And where/how do you think they learned to carry 100lb loads in Alice packs shoulder only? Your argument is akin to saying you don't need to learn correct form for squatting at lighter weight in my opinion. Good form is good form and best practices for load carriage are best practices for load carriage.

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
New Post
1/7/2021 12:52 PM
 
scothill wrote:
And where/how do you think they learned to carry 100lb loads in Alice packs shoulder only?
 
"Mission first".  Its called a "team ruck" when it weighs 80-100# for a reason.  I've also gotten off of a Blackhawk with a ruck like that and a five gallon water can in each hand.  I weighed 165 then.  NOBODY trains with weights like that, apart from a select few Selection events that I'll not describe in an open forum.  Same as NOBODY runs with a loaded ruck in training, only during a selection event when you absolutely must.

 

 
New Post
1/7/2021 1:20 PM
 
scothill wrote:
Your argument is akin to saying you don't need to learn correct form for squatting at lighter weight in my opinion.
 
 
No.  It isn't.  My only issue with the ALICE frame is the standoff for the hip pad that induces the forward lean.  This was to designed in to prevent prickly heat from the jungle by providing ample airspace.  The short frame also causes people with long torsos problems because that hip pad rides too high. Perfect it ain't, but if you can't carry a 25-40 lb load for 30-60min conditioning walk, you have medical or strength issues that need to be addressed.
 
I've been a slacker PT-wise for several months now.  I had the Wuhan Bat-Stew-Flu over Thanksqiving.  I have some spring hikes planned and I know I've got to start getting some miles in.  I will compare and contrast light to moderate weights between my ALICE and my Umlindi and report back.
 
As for military guys getting injured from even the crazy weights most of us endured under an ALICE pack, I'm sure it happened but, as a medic, I can't recall anything directly attributable.  Most guys who did a full career though have what is referred to (for good reason) as a "military neck".  That is a loss of the natural curve in the cervical spine.  I have that like most 20yr infantry/SOF guys.  IMO, not lifting enough sets you up for this, and carrying a light to moderate weight in a properly padded pack that fits you, ALICE, HPG, or whatever, SANS hipbelt, can contribute to a stronger upper back, along with barbell/dumbell overhead pressed and pullups.  NO OTHER EXERCISE strengthens the muscles of the rotator cuff as well as pressing a barbell overhead.  Doing repetative bench presses and NOT PRESSING OVERHEAD is what causes the overwhelming majority of shoulder issues not related to an impact injury.

 

 
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