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My wife got a hairline fracture in the ball of her shoulder joint about two years ago. Unfortunately, it still hurts when she exercises that shoulder, which limits how much she can train it.

If she exercises each shoulder as much as she wants to, naturally the non-problematic shoulder will progress in strength faster, increasing the already-present strength disparity between the two.

The question is: is there anything wrong with that?

In other words, should she train each shoulder as much as she is able? Or is there something dangerous in increasing lateral strength disparity?

The single-arm exercises she does are mostly kettlebell lifts and swings.

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  • There's tons of stuff online about muscle imbalances and the increased risk of injury, but I'm not sure how much that would apply to an imbalance between the shoulders. That said, I don't think there's any reason to knowingly and willingly increase the disparity between the two; seems like the best course of action would be to focus on rehab work for the painful/weaker shoulder, then move forward when both shoulders are capable of doing so. Jan 20 '14 at 12:02
  • @AnthonyGrist Her bad shoulder went through quite a bit of rehab since she injured it two years ago. At this point, the pain she feels when exercising it is just something that may be expected to be there for quite some time. The question is, until that shoulder feels completely ok (which may be never), is there any reason to knowingly and willingly leave the other shoulder relatively unexercised, to avoid increasing strength disparity? Any links to sources arguing one way or another would be much appreciated. Jan 20 '14 at 16:33
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You should always train them together. Naturally most people have a muscle imbalance, right arm stronger than left arm is a common one but as long as you train them together they'll eventually even out even if physical appearance may be slightly different. Just because you don't feel as though you've pushed to the limit doesn’t mean you haven’t made an impact, tell her to try dropping her weight down for a period of time to see how she deals with it and if her shoulder begins to level off start going up agian. If it however continues to hurt and so on she should seek medical advice.

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