I've had a nerve pinch in my right shoulder for god knows how long. I'm unable to go through the full motion of wide grip pull ups or wide grip cable pulldowns with any moderate weights.

Anyone have any ideas how to resolve this. I've tried to some stretching of the shoulders and it seems to help, a bit. Is stretching the way to go and will just take time to resolve? Should I just go see a doctor?

This has always been a issue.

4 Answers 4


The wide grip requires that your shoulder have full range to abduct and externally rotate. Limitation from tight muscles or from weak scapular stabilizers can cause an impingement at the shoulder joint, so it may or may not be a pinched nerve.

To find out what you actually have and to get a good exercise program to correct it, you should see your doctor (orthopedist) and/or a physical therapist (physio). Any info here will only be general information which might help, but may not address your complete problem.

If your main problem is poor shoulder positioning the following may help:

  • Tight Muscles: Muscles that limit this wide grip motion are tight pecs (esp. pec minor) and subscapularis.
  • Exercises to Stretch: Pec stretches such as the doorway stretch may help. Try this stretch with the arm at various heights along the door frame to find where in the range your muscle feels tight.
  • Exercises to Strengthen and Stretch: The wall pec stretch, stretches the pecs but also contracts the rhomboid and trapezius scapular muscles to help improve the positioning of the shoulder blade. The position of the shoulder blade is important because if it is out of position (as with shoulders that are rounded forward) it can lead to impingement and pain.

If your problem is a pinched nerve, then see your doctor/physical therapist for treatment and an exercise regime to correct the imbalances and to improve your nerve mobility.

  • I'm slowly thinking that it's simply tight shoulder muscles as it only occurs at the bottom of the exercise where important not quite hanging.
    – Salsero69
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 4:50
  • If the stretches don't clear the pain, it is still a good idea to have an orthopedic phyical therapist or manual therapist take a look at it and give you a specific program. It may need soft tissue work and even specific joint mobilizations. Everything has to work together just right otherwise the shoulder and the rotator cuff can get aggravated. Good luck. Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 14:40
  • I was doing Cable Internal Rotation (rotator cuff) exercise and I could feel that my right should was messed up. I think the muscles are a bit jumbled up. So yes, will see a pro.
    – Salsero69
    Commented Aug 11, 2012 at 2:35
  • Good luck. If you study the shoulder before you see someone, you can ask better questions and get better information from them. Find a good pro - sadly all pros are not alike. Commented Aug 11, 2012 at 10:12

If you genuinely believe, or from past experience you know, that this is a pinched nerve, you cannot rely on home care for too long. You need to see a doctor or physio for specific help:

"Generally, there is no permanent damage if a nerve is trapped for a short duration. However, if the trapped nerve is untreated and the pressure continues, the result can be chronic pain and possible permanent nerve damage. Many people will recover from the effects of a pinched nerve within days or weeks with proper rest and conservative treatment. Stopping any activities that can cause or aggravate the nerve compression is essential to a full recovery. In some instances, it may be necessary to wear a brace or splint to immobilize the area, such as in carpal tunnel syndrome."

That said, ibuprofen and some foods (those high in Omega 3 fatty acids, for instance) are great help in fighting inflamation.

  • Let's say it wasn't a pinched nerve, what could be another reason. When I do wide grip pull ups it only occurs when I reach the bottom of the move. It hurts enough that I can't work through it. Stretching only fixes the issue for 1 or two more reps.
    – Salsero69
    Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 17:01


or www.amazon.com/Trigger-Point-Therapy-Workbook-Self-Treatment/dp/1572243759/ might have the solution for you. I've had good results with the latter book (haven't got the former because it worked) in addressing neck range of motion problems as well as my left shoulder with issues that I've had for years. Not fully recovered yet on either, but it is much better.

Then again, it might be something much different. It's trite to suggest seeing a qualified physician, and I'm not doing that just in a cover my ass fashion, but it's also key to get the right physician who can actually help you, not one that just suggests you no longer do weights and take some painkillers.


I am currently deaaling with a bad pinched nerve, for a couple of months now. I use massage therapy and a good chiropractor for a pinched nerve. The nerve is either wrapped up in a knot in the muscle or being pinched by bone or cartilage. (This is what I've read and what I've been told by both my care givers, my massage therapist and chiropractor.) When at home, I get relief by using a tennis ball in a sock, put it between me and a wall and roll it around on the muscle that is knotted up.

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