Common Exercises That May Be Causing Your Shoulder Pain by Kristin Eannotti, M.S.

Shoulder pain affects over 20% of our population.  If you are experiencing shoulder pain it is important to be assessed by a health professional to find the root cause of your pain. If a shoulder injury is left untreated it can affect your quality of life down the road.

It’s very important to make sure you have the proper range of motion before you start using resistance for shoulder exercises. Below are common exercises that may be causing shoulder pain if you are not using the proper form. Read the tips below to make sure you are following these basic rules to keep your shoulders safe!


  • Be sure your elbow does not pass your shoulder.
  • Retract your shoulder blade into your spine.
  • Your arm should be parallel to your body to keep the elbow in line with your shoulder.

Chest Press

  • Make sure your feet are flat against the floor in a wide stance and engage your legs.
  • Have your back flat against the bench and have your shoulder blades act like they’re “hugging” the bench.
  • If you have experienced shoulder pain with this exercise before, you may need to make your grip more narrow (shoulder width). The wider your grip, the more vulnerable your shoulders will be to an injury.


  • Avoid dips if you do not have good mobility to start off.
  • If you do have good mobility, do not go lower than your functional range of motion.
  • Be sure you keep your shoulder blades down, don’t shrug!


  • Focus on using your lower trapezius and latissimus dorsi.
  • Aim to do pull-ups towards the beginning of your workout to avoid being tired and using your upper trapezius. This can cause upper back tension and neck pain.


  • Let your elbows bend naturally. Avoid driving your elbows out, which can cause impingement.
  • Don’t feel the need to bring your chest too low to the ground because if you don’t have the strength yet, you will cause a lot of anterior pressure/injury to the shoulder.

About Kristin Eannotti, M.S.

MS in Exercise Science and Nutrition
This entry was posted in Getting Fit, Medical News. Bookmark the permalink.

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