Relieve shoulder pain with these simple workout tweaks

It might seem strange, but the best remedy for shoulder pain, which can be aggravated by movement, are some modified shoulder exercises.

According to Lee Rosenzweig, a physical therapist at the Joint Mobility Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, bad posture, repetitive movements, and some exercises are the main causes of general shoulder pain, muscle tears, and tendonitis.

To address muscle imbalances, strengthen the supporting muscles of the shoulder, and get rid of shoulder pain, you must perform the proper shoulder exercises.

Modified exercises to ease shoulder pain

Ethan Benda, a certified personal trainer and strength coach from Kansas City, Missouri, explained that there are countless ways to strengthen the shoulder by “varying the angles and force” used when exercising. Most of the time, changing your exercise routine a little bit can help ease shoulder pain.

Nick Tumminello, a certified personal trainer from Rhode Island, advised that finding the best exercise will require some experimentation on your part. If a particular exercise hurts your shoulder, make micro-adjustments until you settle on a workout that suits you best. (Related: Improving your posture could help reduce muscle pain, joint pain and headaches.)

Here are some shoulder exercises that you can try:

Chest presses

  • Cut the movement short – Lowering your hands all the way to your chest hyper-extends the shoulder, which puts increased stress on the front of the shoulder. If doing this hurts the front of your shoulder, try stopping the movement about three to four inches above the chest.
  • Don’t use barbells and machines – Not everyone can move symmetrically, so locking yourself into a fixed position on a bar or machine might force one of your shoulders into places it can’t move. Use equipment that lets your shoulders move independently of the other, like a dumbbell bench press or a seated/standing chest press with a cable or a resistance band.
  • Lower your elbows diagonally from your body – Letting your elbows flare straight out to your sides can bunch up the shoulders and increase the risk for shoulder impingement, or the pinching of the muscles. Lower your elbows so they point diagonally away from your body and end in line with your waist. To position your body this way, you need to turn your hands so the palms are angled slightly toward each other.
  • Try a neutral grip – If the diagonal approach doesn’t suit you, try a neutral grip with your palms facing one another. While you’re moving, keep your elbows tucked close to your sides while lowering the weights.

Shoulder presses

  • Exercise one arm at a time – Doing single-arm shoulder presses makes it easier to monitor your movement. It also lets you make minor corrections on movement patterns for each side. Remember, the routine for your left side won’t always work on the right side.
  • Let each arm move freely – Like with bench presses, you shouldn’t force your arms into movement paths that aren’t suitable for your body’s joint structure, like when using a shoulder-press machine or free-weight barbell. Use cables, dumbbells, kettlebells, or resistance bands instead.
  • Stop your weights at chin height – Lowering weights farther may cause shoulder issues. Taking your hands to about chin level is enough to reap all of the movement’s benefits.


  • Focus on the top – Try a variation called an “over-press,” where you focus on the top part of the push-up. As you reach the top of the exercise, keep pressing to round your upper back, like a cat pose in yoga. Go as low as you can, but don’t put too much stress in your shoulders during the bottom part of a push-up.
  • Narrow your hand positioning – Push-ups often cause shoulder pain because you place your hands too far apart from each other. If the top of your shoulder hurts when doing a push-up, place your hands closer together so they’re directly in line with your shoulders.
  • Use a mini band – Try adding a mini band when working out to ease some pressure from the front of the shoulder. Mini bands can help hasten fat loss, increase muscle activation, refine your form, and strengthen weak spots. Put a mini band around your wrists and get your hands in the push-up position. While doing the push-ups, the tension redirects some of the force to the middle and posterior deltoids (the back shoulder muscles). This helps relieve stress on the anterior/front of the shoulder.

Ease shoulder pain by trying some of the modified exercises above and pay attention to your body so you can avoid further harm and injuries.

Read more articles about natural ways to relieve shoulder pain and other remedies at

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