yoga for shoulder pain

How To Fix Overhead Press Shoulder Pain For Good

Shoulder press pain is very common among people who lift weights. This exercise moves your arms through your shoulders full ROM. It’s a great exercise but can hurt your shoulder if done incorrectly.

Can You Get a Shoulder Injury from Overhead Press?

Absolutely, an injury from performing overhead press is extremely common. You may have been told you have a rotator cuff tear, shoulder impingement, labral tear and many others. All of these can happen when performing shoulder presses. Let’s take a deeper look at the most common diagnoses I see in patients with pain during overhead press.

Diagnoses That Cause Shoulder Pain with Overhead Press

Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy

The rotator cuff is the most important muscle of the shoulder. It keeps the head of the humerus in its socket keeping the joint secure. It is essential during overhead presses because your arm moves a lot. Full pain-free overhead motion is one of the last things to return after a rotator cuff injury.

Scapular Dyskinesia

Your shoulder blade needs to move correctly so your shoulder stays stable. If your shoulder blade doesn’t move enough, your shoulder joint has to compensate. Think of your shoulder like a game of tug of war. If you have one slacker on the team, the rest has to make up for it.

Shoulder Impingement

Overhead press can often lead to shoulder impingement. This happens from doing the same movement a lot, not moving correctly, or having bad form.

Labral Tear

The labrum helps keep your shoulder stable. This is especially true when you move your arms over your head, like in an overhead press. If it gets injured or torn, it can cause a lot of pain. You may also experience clicking or catching.

The Best Exercises to Fix Shoulder Pain When Performing Overhead Press

Luckily, treating shoulder pain from overhead presses involves similar exercises. This is true no matter the specific diagnosis. Simply, These exercises help reduce the pain.

Scap Push-Ups

Scap push-ups help your shoulder blades move better. This is one of the first exercises I give patients who have pain with overhead press. To do this exercise:

  1. Start in a regular push-up position.
  2. Keep your arms straight, and let your chest sink towards the floor.
  3. Then push your shoulder blades apart, lifting your chest as far from the ground as possible.
  4. Repeat this movement gently.

Perform: 3×12

Plank to Downward Dog

This exercise trains shoulder strength in an overhead position. This is one of my favorite exercises. It helps a lot when patients have pain with shoulder press. If you can do this exercise without pain you will be able to shoulder press without pain in no time. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start in a plank position.
  2. Lift your hips up and back, turning into a downward dog. Your body should look like a triangle.
  3. Hold it for a moment. You should be punching your shoulder blades as far as you can. Next return to plank.
  4. Keep doing this, moving smoothly from plank to downward dog.

Perform 3×8

If you found this exercise helpful then you may need to stretch your shoulders. Stretching your shoulders improves their ROM making them better able to complete exercises. Check out this article for some great shoulder stretches.

Banded Uppercuts

Banded uppercuts are great for making your shoulders stronger. They also activate the rotator cuff. This is one of my go-to exercises when patients initially have shoulder pain during overhead press. To do this:

  1. Tie a resistance band around something sturdy at waist level.
  2. Stand facing away from where the band is tied, holding the end.
  3. Bend your knees a bit, and make an uppercut motion, pulling the band up and across your body.
  4. Do this on both sides to keep things even.

Perform 3×15

Pin Shoulder Press

This exercise helps limit the ROM of the overhead press, thereby reducing pain. This makes the exercise less irritating on the shoulder. To do it:

Perform 3×6

  1. Set up a squat rack with pins at the level where you want to start pressing from – usually a bit above your head.
  2. Put a barbell on the pins.
  3. Start with the bar at the level of the pins and press up until your arms are straight.
  4. Lower the bar back to the pins gently.
  5. Make sure to keep your form good to avoid further injury.

If you find this exercise helpful then you may need to work on some shoulder stretches. Here are some good shoulder mobility exercises.

Landmine press

This is one of the last progressions until you can overhead press without shoulder pain. It is great when the last portion of a normal overhead press is painful.

  1. Insert one end of a barbell into a landmine attachment or securely in a corner to keep it from moving.
  2. Bring the barbell up to shoulder height with your elbow bent. The bar should be positioned near your shoulder with your palm facing inward.
  3. Straighten your arm, pressing the barbell up and away from you.
  4. Fully extend your arm. Then, carefully lower the barbell back to your shoulder.

Perform 3×8

The exercises target the muscles and motions used during an overhead press. They help reduce pain by making muscles stronger and fixing movement patterns. Doing these exercises consistently can make your shoulders stronger and more flexible. This can prevent pain and impingement during overhead presses.

If you feel sharp pain during any exercise, stop. It’s a good idea to talk to a physical therapist if your pain does not get better. They can give you more advice and help make sure you are not doing further damage or wasting your time.

P.S If you also experience shoulder pain performing bench press check out this article.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *