Simple Ways to Adjust Upper Body Exercises for Joint Pain

The Rack Front doors

Shoulder pain or nagging discomfort is a very common problem, but just because certain movement patterns trigger pain doesn’t mean you have to avoid upper body training. 

Overhead Pressing Shoulder Pain

Opt for a high incline instead of directly overhead and switch your grip from pronated (overhand) to neutral.

Flat Pressing Shoulder Pain

Try using a slight decline, opt for a neutral grip, and if you have access to chains, use them to deload the bottom position (most stretched) and overload the top position. Alternatively, try a floor press to reduce the range of motion until the cause of the pain is identified and addressed.

Elbow Pain 

Try a neutral grip for presses and pulls, think about squeezing the elbows together for tricep extensions. It’s also very important to address the joints surrounding the elbow – the shoulder and the wrist. Prioritize shoulder mobility, make time for wrist flexion and extension strength training, and use thick grip implements to further train the muscles of the forearms.

Additional Methods

You can also use tools like bands, chains and sleds to work around shoulder pain. Bands and chains can be set up to deload the bottom range of an exercise. Bands can also offload the eccentric portion of a specific exercise. Sleds are a concentric only option, so you don’t have to worry about controlling load eccentrically. 

If you’re dealing with shoulder pain, contact us to start working with one of our coaches today!

Lauren Shull
B.S., NASM CPT

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