There’s a big difference between building upper body strength for fitness versus building upper body strength for shoulder pain. Before getting into specific upper body workouts it’s important to understand some guiding principles to help us pick effective exercises.
Warm Up With Mid Back Mobility
Shoulder movement is directly linked with your mid back (or thoracic spine) movement. Stiffness in the mid back leads to limitations in shoulder movement that cause increased strain on the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the shoulder when performing certain movements. Adding a mid back mobility routine to your warm up will help you improve upper body strength without causing shoulder pain.
Tightness in the mid back limits shoulder movement and stresses the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the shoulder during certain upper body movements.
Heavy Focus On Rows
Muscle imbalances are another common cause of shoulder pain when learning how to improve upper body strength. The most common variation is tightness in front of chest (yoru pecs) and weakeness in the muscles of the back. This causes your shoulder to round inward and leads to injury. To avoid shoulder pain while strength training, it is recommended to use the 3:1 ratio. For each push exercise, add in 3 row exercises to maintain balance.
Train Movements Over Muscles
Bicep curls, tricep extensions, delt raises are all common exercises in a typical upper body program. The problem with isolating muscle groups when it comes to shoulder pain is that it can lead to muscle imbalances that place more strain on tendons of the shoulder. Training movements strengthens the entire shoulder complex while improving the activities we use in our daily life. The push, pull, and press are three shoulder movements for strong, healthy, pain free shoulders.
The press (along with push and pull) is one of three movements to help improve upper body strength while avoiding shoulder pain.
Learning how to improve upper body strength can be tricky for those dealing with shoulder pain. Training movements, mobility, and rows will help you to build strength without stressing your joints.
For the last 10 years I’ve been helping adults build the strength and confidence to live active, healthy, and happy lives. My free program ‘Solving Pain With Strength’ gives you a step-by-step, approachable way to build strength without stressing your joints. Download it below and get started feeling better today.