I've always been more focused on keeping my external rotators strong, as I heard that it is normally those that are weak... and that the internal rotators are generally the more strong / dominant ones.

I've had a long lay off from the gym for a number of reasons and have recently been battling a stubborn back pain in the gym these last few months, mainly when doing things like pressing and pulling movements (more-so pushing movements are the problem).

It doesn't feel like it's my back muscles that are hurting though, more like it's something deeper.

I've seen a couple PTs about it and they both think the pain is due to my winging scapular and weak lower traps. The exercises they've given me don't seem to have affected my back pain at all, but have at least improved on some other aches & pains I was getting in my shoulder joint.

At my last PT session, she noticed that my internal rotator was very weak on the affected side, but said that it was most likely unrelated.

However I've been doing some internal rotation exercises and I feel like it may be helping with my back pain, though it's a little early to tell.

It's strange though because I never hear about anyone having weak internal rotation, normally it seems to be the opposite... I also cannot find any link between a weak internal rotator causing pain around the thoracic region.

1 Answer 1


Had the same problem, fixed it with arm wrestling here and there with my friends, about whenever I meet them.

No one ever has strong internal rotators, at least what most people intended as internal rotators... Lats and chest can do internal rotation, but the only few muscles dedicated solely on internal rotation are the subscapularis and a small tiny strand of the front deltoid. Everyone has a weak subscapularis because no one ever trains it, so yeah it is completely normal.

And remember that injuries are never because of imbalances but because of weakness. You don't need to do as much back training as you do front training, as much internal rotation as you do external...its just a stupid waste of time.

Train for your own goal, be it looks or strength or even just health or maybe a sport... Maybe do some "weak point training" once a week or something like that, it doesn't take much... You don't really need a dedicated training schedule for things like that.

Remember, the subscapularis is a tiny sheet muscle, untrained it's almost the same size of an untrained pectoral (chest) but just like the chest, to grow it, it takes months of dedication... Maybe years.

Don't waste time on a muscle you won't ever need outside of arm wrestling and muscle ups, training it once a week for 20 minutes it's plenty.

  • Great thanks! do you think a weak subscap could cause problems? I wouldn't be bothered about training it specifically but I have had a number of nagging pains going on in my back / shoulder region
    – user34523
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 9:20

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