Training with Shoulder Pain

Posted on 21. Oct, 2011 by in Back to Health, Blog, Rotator Cuff Pain

People complain about having shoulder pain all of the time. Usually, I get a gym member, friend or even a stranger approach me about how their shoulder started hurting during their training routines. Sometimes people use shoulder pain as a reason to stop training all together. Other people train right through the pain, not realizing that they might be making the issue worse.

Whatever the reason for the pain, it is always a good idea to have the shoulder looked at by a qualified professional before you continue. Whether it is your doctor, or a physical therapist, or even a qualified movement expert, you should always have someone that is “in the know” check you out before you continue on your way.

No matter what you do, here are some suggestions to help with the shoulder and keep you training without making things worse.


1.Use pain as your guide

If you are doing something that hurts your shoulder, stop doing it for now. Too many people train through pain instead of around pain. Find out what is up first before you decide to train through and make things way worse.


2. Row and Pull More

Nine times out of ten, I find that people have shoulder pain because they have a major imbalance in the shoulder area. Most people that I come in contact with do way too many pushing motions and not enough pulling. Pull more. What does this mean? Add pulling exercises to your routine. Low Cable row, Dumbbell rows, and pull downs are some examples. Most people sit all day either in their car or behind a computer screen. This will put your shoulders in a fixed position, causing rounding to occur over time. The last thing you want to do is “round” them more by doing more pressing motions. This is another reason why pulling exercises are necessary.


3. Don’t Press Overhead

No matter what you do, try to keep your shoulder joint at or below 90 degrees. Do your rows with your elbows close to your sides. Don’t do anything overhead for now.


4. Stop Bench Pressing (for now)

Stay away from pushing movements for a while. Stop the bench pressing, shoulder pressing, pushups, and dips. Stay away from pushing until things start to heal up and you get your imbalances worked out. Chances are, the pushing movements could be somewhat responsible for your problem.

5. Fix Your Form

Nine times out of ten, people are performing their upper body exercises wrong and in doing so, placing way to much stress on the shoulder joint. Find an expert and ask them if they would be willing to watch you do your exercises. Explain to them that your shoulder is bothering you and you want to find out if they are performing their routine safely. Some examples of poor technique that cause shoulder issues:

  • Pressing exercises with elbows flared outward. You want to keep your elbows to your sides when pressing. Flaring your elbows outward places and incredible amount of stress on your shoulders and can cause major issues. Whether you are doing a bench-pressing motion, or a shoulder-pressing motion, you should have your elbows fixed at your sides as much as you can.
  •   Stay away from dumbbell flies, or anything behind your neck. You should never press or even pull behind your neck. This is probably the worse thing you can do for your shoulder joint. Everything should be in front of your head…never behind.


6. Focus on Other Body Parts

If you just cannot do your upper bodywork because of your shoulder problem, work on your legs, core, and even your arms to a degree. Again, there is no reason you cant get a good, quality session in even when you are injured.

Just because you have a bum shoulder, there is no reason why you should be done training or working out. There are plenty of things you can still do that will give you a great session and keep you healthy at the same time.


If you are suffering from Rotator Cuff Pain check out this simple tennis ball exercise for near instant pain relief.

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