How To Fix Shoulder Pain During Push Ups

My Story of Experiencing Shoulder Pain with Push ups

I love doing push-ups because you can do them anywhere and don’t need any equipment. Whether you’re at home, in the park, or even at the office, there’s always a spot to get a few reps in. That’s a key reason push-ups are so popular. While in college I did the viral 100 pushups a day challenge. My routine was to wake up push up, and do some more in the driveway before getting in my car. Once at work, I did some more before going inside. Throughout my day I would do more on my 15 minute break, during lunch, before leaving work. I saw amazing results but over the course of the months my shoulders, wrists, and elbows were screaming at me. If you experience a similar issue then I am here to help you with your push ups. If you experience push up shoulder pain then you came to the right place.

Push-ups work your whole body. Arms, chest, back, core, legs, and hips. They make you strong and are great for endurance. One of my favorite variations is for weighted push ups. They let you do less reps but still get a fantastic workout. They are a great way to progressively overload without needing a gym membership.

Push-ups also strengthen the muscles in your shoulders. These muscles are the deltoids and pectorals. The deltoids move your arm in all directions. This depends on which head is activated: the anterior, lateral, or posterior. I like to call the pecs the hugging muscle. They move your arm as if you are giving a great big hug. When you do push-ups, these muscles get a good workout. They help you build strength and stability in your upper body. This is why push-ups are included in so many different workout routines.

But sometimes, push-ups can cause shoulder pain. This pain can be annoying and lead to missed workouts. Understanding why this happens and how to fix it is key to receiving all the benefits push-ups have to offer.

Importance of Proper Form For shoulder pain from push ups

Doing push-ups the right way is super important. Bad form can hurt your shoulders. When your form is off, you put extra stress on your joints and muscles, which can lead to pain and injury. Learning the correct form will help you avoid these problems. It will make your workouts more effective.

Many people make mistakes when doing push-ups. These mistakes can cause pain and discomfort. Let’s look at some common mistakes and how to fix them. By correcting these mistakes, you can enjoy all the benefits of push-ups without the pain.

Form Mistakes and Corrections For shoulder pain With push ups

Neck Alignment During shoulder push ups

Mistake: Neck out of alignment. This is a common mistake that most lifters make. When you’re doing push-ups, it’s easy to let your neck drop. Or, you might crane it up to look up. Both of these can put extra strain on your neck and shoulders. In the image above you can see a rounded back while she looks up. You should be looking down in between your hands.

Correction: Keep your neck in a straight line. Look straight down at the floor. Don’t look around or up. Keep your body straight from head to heels. Align your neck with your spine to avoid strain and maintain good form. You should also be able to balance a dowel rod on your back, glutes, and head, keeping it straight.

Elbow Positioning During Push ups

Mistake: When your elbows flare to the sides, it strains the shoulders. Over time, this can cause pain or injury. Stability increases when the shoulder is closer to the side. Thus, excessive elbow flaring makes the shoulder more injury-prone. Many are unaware of this common mistake. In the image above, you can see what doing push ups with flared elbows looks like.

Correction: Keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle to your body. Place your hands directly under your shoulders. When you lower your body, your elbows should stay close to your sides. This position is safer for your shoulders and more effective for building strength. This reduces the risk of impingement of your shoulders and lets you focus on building muscle and strength without shoulder pain.

Shoulder Weakness Causing Painful Push Ups

Mistake: Weak shoulders can’t handle the difficulty of the exercise. One way I know if this is the case is if my patient is shaking while performing the push up. Other telltale signs are being unable to perform the exercise at a slow tempo. You may also break form. All of these tell me the exercise is too difficult for you. If your shoulders aren’t strong enough, you might struggle with push-ups. This can lead to poor form and increase your risk of injury with push ups.

Correction: Start with easier push-ups. Try push-ups on your knees or against a wall. Build up your strength slowly. As you get stronger, lower the surface you are pushing up from. Go from doing push ups on the wall, to the dining table, to coffee table, to the floor. It’s important to progress at your own pace to avoid overloading your shoulders. Make sure you maintain good form as you progress.

Overdoing Push-Ups Leading to Shoulder Pain

Mistake: Doing too many push-ups. It’s easy to push yourself too hard. Repeated motion injuries are common with easy movements that get repeated too much. This is what happens to factory workers they do the same thing day in and day out. The same thing can happen if you do too many push ups. This can strain your shoulders and cause pain.

Correction: Add reps slowly. Start with a few and add one or two each time. Aim for 10 to 12 reps with good form. Listen to your body and take breaks when you need to. Quality is more important than quantity. At some point, you will be able to do over 20. I never advise you to do over 20 rep sets unless you have some very specific push-up goal. As a result, keep the rep range between 6-15. Increase the difficulty with more challenging variations to keep the rep range reasonable.

Underlying Shoulder Issues Affecting Push Ups

Mistake: Ignoring shoulder pain. If you have pain, there might be an underlying issue like tendinitis or bursitis. Pushing through the pain can make things worse.

Correction: If you are tired of saying “my shoulder hurts when I do push ups” it is time to see a doctor of physical therapy. I am now providing FREE virtual consultations. They are available through the end of the month. Reach out through our contact page. They can help you find out what’s wrong and get back to working out pain free. Spots fill up fast every time I offer this so reach out now before it is too late. Sometimes, a simple adjustment to your form or routine can make a big difference. Don’t ignore pain – it’s your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Make a change today.

Improper hand placement during push ups hand

Mistake: Placing your hands too high or low can hurt your form and strain your shoulders. This can lead to arm pain after push ups.

Correction: At the bottom of a push-up, place your thumbs at the bottom of your pecs. This step is crucial for shoulder safety. Proper hand placement protects against injury and maintains good form.

Modifications and Alternatives To Fix Shoulder Pain With Push Ups

There are easier ways to do push-ups. These can help you build strength without hurting your shoulders. If you’re new to push-ups or recovering from an injury, try these modifications.

1. Quadruped or Modified-High Plank Position Push Up

Start on your hands and knees. This takes some weight off your shoulders. It’s a great way to learn proper form. As you get stronger, you can move to more challenging positions.

2. Push-Up on a Bench or Wall Push Up Modification

Do push-ups with your hands on a bench or wall. This makes them easier. You can focus on form and build strength. This change is perfect for beginners. It’s also good for anyone who needs to take it easy on their shoulders. I like this one the most. You can make it consistent by always using the same height for the push up modification.

3. Dumbbell Bench Press Instead Of Push Ups

Lie on your back and use dumbbells. This is another way to strengthen your shoulders. It’s easier on your joints. The bench press targets the same muscles as push-ups but with less strain on your shoulders. Unfortunately, it requires some equipment. Nonetheless, it is still a great exercise for shoulder pain when doing push ups.

If you still are experiencing some shoulder pain, here are my favorite stretches for painful shoulders.

V. Conclusion

Good form is key. Take it slow and build up your strength. Don’t ignore shoulder pain. Push-ups are great, but only if you do them right. Fix your form and keep repping!

If your shoulders still hurt, see a professional. They can help you get back on track. Remember, it’s better to take care of a small problem now than to deal with a big one later. Reach out here while you still can.

Push-ups can make you strong and fit. They are a fantastic exercise for your whole body. Just make sure you’re doing them correctly. Use proper form. Progress gradually. Then, you can enjoy push ups benefits without pain. So, get down and give me 10 – but do it right!

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