How To Exercise Without Getting Shoulder Pain

Get-Fit Guy answers a reader question 

Ben Greenfield
1-minute read

Listener Cindy wrote in:

“I’m an active 48-year-old woman who has osteoarthritis with bone spurs in my shoulders.  I have difficulty performing a push-up and have to modify some exercises to accommodate my condition. Which exercises are best to strengthen the shoulders without causing pain?”

It can be frustrating when you want to get a body part stronger, but it hurts when you exercise it! I’d recommend Cindy to:

  1. Avoid pressing a weight directly overhead (like a shoulder press) or directly in front of the body (like a bench press). Since overhead pressing can cause shoulder impingement and front pressing can cause joint irritation in an injured shoulder, these movements should be avoided. Other exercises to avoid are side raises and front raises.

  2. Use cables and elastic bands – which offer far more freedom of rotation in the shoulder than a machine – to perform exercises that strengthen the muscles around the shoulders, including curls, triceps extensions, rows, and pulls.

  3. Use dumbbells to perform exercises that keep the arms close to the body (and reduce forces placed directly on shoulder), such as deadlifts and shoulder shrugs.

  4. Consider including light aerobic movement that works the shoulders against minimal and fluid resistance. A water aerobics class might do the trick.

Cindy should also check out  How To Exercise With A Shoulder Injury and How to Get Rid of Injuries Fast. If you have more questions about how to exercise without getting shoulder pain, then visit the Get-Fit Guy Facebook page!

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All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.