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Unpacking the Common Reasons for Shoulder Pain During a Shoulder Press

Unpacking the Common Reasons for Shoulder Pain During a Shoulder Press

Shoulder pain is a common complaint among fitness enthusiasts, particularly during exercises like the shoulder press. Whether you’re a seasoned lifter or a novice, experiencing discomfort during this exercise can be frustrating and potentially detrimental to your workout routine. In this blog post, we’ll delve into some of the common reasons behind shoulder pain during a shoulder press and explore ways to address and prevent it.

Poor Form

One of the primary culprits behind shoulder pain during a shoulder press is poor form. Incorrect form can place unnecessary stress on the shoulder joint and surrounding muscles, leading to discomfort and even injury. Some common form mistakes include:

– Arching the back: Arching the back excessively during a shoulder press can cause the shoulders to roll forward, putting strain on the rotator cuff muscles.

– Overhead positioning: Bringing the weights too far behind the head can place excessive stress on the shoulder joint and lead to impingement.

– Lack of stability: Failing to engage the core muscles and maintain stability throughout the movement can exacerbate shoulder pain.


Focus on maintaining proper form throughout the exercise. Keep your back straight, core engaged, and shoulders pulled back and down. Ensure that the weights travel in a straight line above your head without excessively arching your back or bringing them too far behind your head.

Muscle Imbalances

Muscle imbalances, particularly between the anterior and posterior shoulder muscles, can contribute to shoulder pain during a shoulder press. Weakness in the stabilizing muscles of the rotator cuff or overdevelopment of the deltoid muscles can lead to instability and dysfunction in the shoulder joint.


Incorporate exercises that target the muscles of the rotator cuff, such as external rotation exercises with resistance bands or dumbbells. Additionally, balance your shoulder workouts by including exercises that target the posterior deltoids and upper back muscles to prevent muscle imbalances.

Overuse or Overtraining

shoulder press pain

Overuse or overtraining can also lead to shoulder pain during a shoulder press. Performing the exercise too frequently or with excessive weight can strain the muscles and tendons of the shoulder joint, leading to inflammation and discomfort.


Allow for adequate rest and recovery between shoulder workouts to prevent overuse injuries. Additionally, pay attention to your body’s signals and avoid pushing through pain during the exercise. Gradually increase the intensity and volume of your shoulder workouts to avoid overtraining.

Pre-existing Injuries or Conditions

Pre-existing shoulder injuries or underlying conditions such as rotator cuff tears, tendonitis, or bursitis can predispose individuals to shoulder pain during a shoulder press. Ignoring these conditions and continuing to perform the exercise can exacerbate symptoms and lead to further injury.


Consult with a healthcare professional if you have pre-existing shoulder injuries or conditions before performing the shoulder press or any other shoulder exercises. They can provide personalized recommendations and modifications to help you safely strengthen your shoulders without exacerbating existing issues.


Shoulder pain during a shoulder press can be a hindrance to your workout routine, but it’s often preventable with proper form, balanced training, and attention to individual limitations. By addressing common issues such as poor form, muscle imbalances, overuse, and pre-existing injuries, you can optimize your shoulder press technique and minimize the risk of discomfort or injury. Remember to listen to your body, prioritize proper form, and consult with a healthcare professional if you experience persistent or severe shoulder pain. With patience and diligence, you can enjoy the benefits of a strong and resilient shoulder girdle without compromise.

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