What Everyone Should Know About Shoulder Rehab

More from my conversation with Tiffaney Marlow. She was able to help one of my friends who had significant shoulder instability. My friend, a former competitive volley ball player, had been sidelined from the game for years because of shoulder pain. Tiffaney built a program to get her back into playing, pain-free. What a gift!

So, I wanted to pick her brain about what everyone should know about caring for their shoulders.


  1. You have pain that’s not just residual muscle soreness from working out – either sharp pain or dull aching pain that persists.
  2. You have clicking or locking in the shoulder.
  3. You have apprehension when your shoulder is in certain positions, i.e. you think your shoulder might pop out or it feels very unstable/sketchy, and you want to get out of that position as quickly as possible.



Tiffaney and I agree, this is a great idea!

It’s probably worth getting evaluated if you notice one or more of these red flags. 

  1. Hiking the shoulders (i.e. shoulders move up toward ears) in chin-ups, pressing and rowing movements. This demonstrates a dysfunctional movement pattern that represents imbalance in the muscles around the shoulder. Click here for an example (I usually recommend several additional correct drills for this problem. Depending on the client this can be easy to fix or very complex).
  2. Winging shoulder blades during pressing, push-ups or plank variations. What is winging? It's when the inside and/or lower boarder of shoulder blade moves away from the rib cage. Click here for an example of prominent winging on this person's left side. As with hiking of the shoulders, this demonstrates instability around the joint. The muscles around the shoulder are not in balance if this is happening.
  3. Significant strength imbalance side to side (i.e. you can dumbbell shoulder press 40lbs for 6 reps on one side, but can only do 30lbs for 6 reps on the other side). That's a 25% difference! For most people, I personally (Peter) don't like to see strength imbalances of more than about 5% side to side.
  4. You have trouble performing certain upper body exercises with correct technique for no apparent reason.


These red-flags represent structural imbalances that are likely to lead to injury long-term as well as limit performance if you’re thinking of ramping up your training or sport activity.

When it comes to being proactive, Tiffany believes that trainers have a huge role to play in preventing injuries from occurring.

If you’re working with a trainer who is monitoring your technique, they’ll often be the notice one of these red flags.

This is why we perform an assessment screen with every single person who comes through our door at Quantum CrossFit. If you've never been assessed, contact us to set one up FOR FREE (we include this during a free trail session that everyone is entitled to). Functional exercises, when performed well, are potent at building incredible real-world fitness. When done incorrectly, they can set you up for problems down the road.



Tiffaney's advice is: “don’t wait… if you start feeling pain. We love to push through the pain, but if you start to feel something, get it checked out. Worst case, you get some reassurance that everything is OK or leave with a simple solution.”

If, on the other hand, you keep training on a faulty foundation and you really blow something out, then a small problem can turn into a big, long-term program that won't be very fun to deal with. 

PerformancePeter Roberts