How to Reduce Your Shoulder Pain With a Dumbbell Press

Make adjustments to your press form to achieve strong shoulders, not painful ones.

Make adjustments to your press form to achieve strong shoulders, not painful ones.

Your life may cause you to feel like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, but your workout shouldn’t. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort during or after shoulder presses, it is likely because your technique needs an adjustment. Poor form during presses can stress the muscles and tendons in the shoulder, which collectively make up the rotator cuff. Do away with discomfort by slowing down and perfecting your movements. After all, being a super woman doesn’t mean you have to put up with pain.

Warm up properly before your strength-training session to increase blood flow; lifting weights with cold muscles can lead to injuries. Engage in at least five to 10 minutes of light cardio activity along with one to three sets of body-weight exercises, such as squats or pushups.

Perform your first set with lighter than normal dumbbells to activate the muscle fibers and prepare them for greater force. Complete eight to 10 repetitions using dumbbells that are 50 percent of your normal starting weight. For example, if you normally use 20-pound dumbbells for shoulder presses, perform your first set with 10 pounds in each hand.

Reduce your maximum resistance level. The weights you normally use may be too heavy, causing stress to your rotator cuff. The proper resistance level should allow you to complete eight to 12 repetitions with proper form. Decrease the resistance level by 2 to 5 pounds.

Focus on your form. Executing the dumbbell shoulder press with improper form can lead to pain and discomfort. Sit tall, pull your abdominal muscles in toward your lower spine, slightly lift your chest and slide the shoulder blades down your back. Lift the dumbbells to shoulder height, palms facing forward, and separate your hands to be slightly wider than shoulder-width. Stabilize your wrists to prevent them from bending. Press the dumbbells toward the ceiling, straightening your arms over your head. Maintain a rigid torso, allowing only the arms to move throughout the exercise. Hold the contraction for one count, then lower the dumbbells back to starting position at your shoulders.

Maintain control of the weight throughout the exercise. Avoid using momentum to lift the dumbbells over your head, which can pull your body out of alignment and place stress on the rotator cuff. Lower the dumbbells back to your shoulders at the bottom of the exercise in a slow, gradual manner, rather than allowing them to drop.

Tip

  • Seek the assistance of a certified personal trainer if you are having trouble with your shoulder press form.

Warning

  • Discontinue the shoulder presses if you continue to experience pain and discomfort. Consult a physician regarding the pain, as well as before starting a new exercise program.
 

About the Author

Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.

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