In todays article we’ll show you how to do push ups correctly to avoid shoulder pain. While the push up is an extremely effective exercise to build shoulder strength, it can easily lead to shoulder pain and injury if not performed correctly. By following the instrctions below, you’ll be able to master the the push up exercise to safely build strength without stressing your joints.
How To Do Push Ups Correctly
Ready the practice your push up? Follow these instructions to learn how to perform withour aggravating shoulder pain. Then keep reading to learn how to avoid common mistakes and safe ways to work up to doing push ups. To perform the perfect push up:
- I prefer to have clients start the push up on their stomach to find the proper hand positioning.
- Place hands, fingers pointed toward top of mat, below shoulders just outside your chest.
- Curl your toes.
- Press through your hands to raise body off the floor until arms are straight.
- Maintain plank position all the way through (don’t let hips sag or shoot up in the air).
- Keep your elbows tucked into your body. Do not let elbows flare of shoulders rotate inward.
Watch the video below to learn more about how to perform the Perfect Push Up w/ Dr. Baird
Common Push Up Mistakes And How To Fix Them
When learning how to do push ups correctly it’s important to remember that FORM should take precedence over everything else. Five perfect push ups is better than 100 sloppy push ups. Avoiding the mistakes listed below will help you master the exercise and avoid shoulder pain to keep you active and strong for years too come.
Elbows Flare Out (Shoulder’s Rotate Inward)
Easily the most common mistake I see with clients and in the gym which leads to ‘burning’ pain on the front of the shoulder. Fix this issue with proper hand placement and a focus on keeping the elbows close to the body throughout the exercise.
Incorrect Hand Placement
Placing your hands too far out or too far up from the body will cause your elbows to flare out and put more pressure on your shoulders. To fix this issue I recommend placing hands just below shoulders and outside of your pecs when laying on yoru stomach.
Not Maintaining Plank Position
Don’t ‘cheat’ this movement by letting your hips sag or shoot up into the air. Lovingly referred to as ‘worm‘ push ups, this mistake can lead to shoulder and back pain. If you’re unable to maintain the plank position throughout I would recomend moving to a variation below until enough strength is built up to maintain form.
How To Work Up To A Push Up
After reading more about how to do push ups correctly you may be thinking to yourself, ‘there’s no way in hell I’d be able to complete a push up’. That’s OK. Performing the perfect push up is hard and takes a lot of strength.
For all these variations the same rules still apply. Place you hands below shoulders, keep your elbows close to the body, and maintain a strong plank position throughout the movement.
Dumbell Bench Press
Many beginners may not feel comfortable with any variation of the push up to start. The bench press is an effective way strengthen your pecs and other ‘push’ muscles to safely work up to a push up. One of the main benefits is being able to choose the weight you feel comfortable with to start.
Wall Push Up
The wall push up is a great variation for beginners.Placing your hands on the wall, simply perform the same push up movement. The more upright your body, the easier/less resistance you will push. Move your feet further from the wall as you get stronger to further challenge yourself.
Incline Push Up
Once you feel confident with the wall push up, move to an incline push up. The steeper the incline the easier the exercise. So start with a steep incline (maybe use a table) and as you build strength, move to a lower incline (bench or chair).
The Knee Push Up
The last variation to master before moving to the full push up is the knee push up. This movement closely resembles the push up only starting on your knees, rather than you toes.
Learning how to do a push up correctly is important in limiting the impact that goes through your shoulder and avoiding shoulder pain as we get older. For more information on how to build strength without stressing your joints, be sure to download my free guide ‘Solving Pain With Strength’ at the link below.