If you have a full recovery from a grade 2 AC separation, is there any exercise that you should never try to do ever again, being that the ligament is no longer attaching two bones, and instead is in a state of perpetual tear?

I was inspired to write this article after reading in a forum about a young man’s concern about deadlifting with a grade 2 AC separation.

He was afraid that “there was nothing holding it together,” referring to the joint, when he was picking up a heavy barbell off the floor.

He was afraid that something would just break off in his shoulder joint.

Take a look at the diagram below showing the grades of an AC joint injury.

Any deadlifting or other weightlifting enthusiast will certainly wonder if, after the injury heals (no longer painful, swollen or bruised; no restriction of motion), any strength training exercises are permanently off-limits.

“There are a number of ligaments that support the acromioclavicular joint,” says Jonathan Oheb, MD, North Valley Orthopedic Institute, Chief of Orthopedic Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery; jonathanohebmd.com.

“Including the joint capsule as well as the coracoclavicular ligaments,” adds Dr. Oheb.

“In this case there is a likely tear of the AC ligament, but the CC ligaments are still intact and likely sprained. [A sprain is an injured ligament that is not actually severed or torn.]  Once they heal there should be no restrictions.”

This means that if you were deadlifting 400 pounds before your grade 2 AC separation, you can expect to eventually be deadlifting 400 pounds again.

As well as any of the following for max effort:

  • Bench press
  • Overhead press
  • Bar dip
  • Bent-over barbell row
  • Rock climbing
  • Chopping wood

This may take time with a grade 2 AC joint injury. Do not get ahead of yourself. And while performing the deadlift, be sure to place the bar back onto the floor with control — rather than banging it to the floor, since having control is better for the shoulder and back structures.

In addition to hand, elbow and shoulder care, Dr. Oheb provides comprehensive surgical and nonsurgical treatment for all orthopedic conditions of the hip, knee and ankle, including broken bones and injuries.