Your shoulders do a lot of the work when you train your upper body. They are involved in just about every exercise, as they are the supporting muscles when you bench press, pull up, curl, and the list goes on. But the fact that they’re a joint means they’re one of the “weak spots” in your upper body. If you’re not careful, you may end up with serious weightlifting shoulder pain. Thankfully, we’ve got a few tips to help you deal with it:
It’s vital that you perform exercises slowly and with correct form, else you risk straining your shoulder muscles and joints. Even when those last few reps are hard to complete, you have to careful not to jerk or swing. That’s when you hurt yourself, and you could cause serious shoulder injury if you make the wrong move. Reduce the amount of weight if you have to, or do a few less reps. What matters is that you push your muscles to fatigue WITHOUT increasing your risk of injuries.
Avoid Potentially Damaging Exercises
You’d be surprised by how many of the “classic” weightlifting moves could end up harming your muscles. Classics like Shoulder Press and Behind the Neck Press pinch your rotator cuff, which could lead to serious injury if you’re not careful. Upright rows can be harmful if you raise the weight too high (above chest level), and lateral raises can also be harmful if you lift too high. Stick with the exercises that work your shoulders without raising your arms too high overhead. It’s an unnatural position that could cause damage to your nerves, muscles, and connective tissue if you’re not careful.
Work Your Traps
Most of us tend to focus on the more visible muscles, the deltoids. However, the traps (the ones between your shoulders and neck) are very important to train as well. These upper back muscles play an important role in both pulling and pushing exercises, meaning they are essential for strong shoulders. Don’t ignore your traps just because the delts are more of a glamour muscle. Include plenty of trap work in your upper back and shoulder days, and you’ll have much stronger shoulders less likely to suffer injuries.
Watch How You Sleep
The way you sleep can have a huge effect on your weightlifting shoulder pain. If you’re sleeping on your side in the same position all night, all of your torso weight is resting on your shoulders. That could cut off the flow of blood to your shoulders, leading to reduced repair and even potentially making the injury worse. If you’re suffering from weightlifting shoulder pain, try to sleep on the opposite side of your injured shoulder. Even on nights where there is no pain, shift positions every few hours to encourage blood flow to both shoulders.
Train Your Arms and Chest
Did you know a lot of shoulder pain can be avoided by strengthening your arms and chest? Your biceps and triceps do a lot of the work when you train your shoulders, so stronger arms can help to increase your ability to lift. By training your chest more often, you work your shoulders, leading to stronger muscles with more endurance and strength.
One of the primary causes of weightlifting shoulder pain is stiffness. If you didn’t stretch properly before your workouts, you may find the tissue isn’t flexible and loose, so there will be pain when you stretch it. Pay attention to your shoulders and arms when stretching, and your stretches will keep that shoulder pain at bay.