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Understanding Shoulder Pain During Shoulder Press: Causes and Solutions

Understanding Shoulder Pain During Shoulder Press Causes and Solutions


Shoulder pain during shoulder press exercises is a common complaint among gym-goers and fitness enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned lifter or just starting out, experiencing discomfort during this exercise can be frustrating and demotivating. However, understanding the reasons behind this pain can help you address it effectively and continue your fitness journey safely. In this blog post, we’ll explore the common causes of shoulder pain during shoulder press and provide solutions to alleviate discomfort and prevent injury.

Understanding Shoulder Anatomy

Before delving into the causes of shoulder pain during shoulder press, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of shoulder anatomy. The shoulder is a complex joint comprised of bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons that work together to provide a wide range of motion. The primary muscles involved in shoulder press exercises include the deltoids, trapezius, and rotator cuff muscles.

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain During Shoulder Press

  1. Poor Form: Incorrect form is one of the leading causes of shoulder pain during shoulder press. This includes arching the back, flaring the elbows, and using excessive weight. Poor form puts unnecessary stress on the shoulder joint and surrounding muscles, leading to pain and potential injury.
  2. Muscle Imbalances: Weakness or imbalance in the muscles supporting the shoulder joint can contribute to pain during shoulder press. For example, if the deltoid muscles are stronger than the rotator cuff muscles, it can lead to instability and discomfort.
  3. Impingement: Shoulder impingement occurs when the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles become pinched between the bones of the shoulder joint. This can be exacerbated during shoulder press exercises, especially if the arms are raised too high or if there’s a lack of scapular control.
  4. Overuse: Overtraining or performing shoulder press exercises too frequently without adequate rest can lead to overuse injuries, such as tendinitis or bursitis. These conditions cause inflammation and pain in the shoulder joint, making it difficult to perform pressing movements comfortably.

Solutions and Prevention Strategies

  1. Focus on Form: Proper form is crucial for preventing shoulder pain during shoulder press. Keep your back straight, core engaged, and elbows slightly in front of the body. Avoid arching the back or flaring the elbows outward.
  2. Strengthen Rotator Cuff Muscles: Incorporate exercises specifically targeting the rotator cuff muscles into your workout routine to improve stability and prevent imbalances. Examples include external rotations, internal rotations, and prone Y’s and T’s.
  3. Use Appropriate Weight: Select a weight that allows you to perform the exercise with proper form and control. Avoid using weights that are too heavy, as this can increase the risk of injury.
  4. Warm-Up Properly: Prior to shoulder press exercises, warm up your shoulders with dynamic stretches and mobility exercises. This helps increase blood flow to the muscles and prepares them for the workout ahead.
  5. Incorporate Variety: Don’t rely solely on shoulder press exercises for shoulder development. Incorporate a variety of movements, such as lateral raises, front raises, and face pulls, to target different areas of the shoulder and reduce the risk of overuse injuries.


Shoulder pain during shoulder press exercises can be a barrier to progress in your fitness journey. By understanding the common causes of this discomfort and implementing the solutions and prevention strategies outlined in this blog post, you can alleviate pain, prevent injury, and continue working towards your fitness goals safely and effectively. Remember, listening to your body and prioritizing proper form and technique are key to a healthy and pain-free shoulder workout routine.

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