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Anterior Shoulder Pain with Weightlifting

A common complaint we get from our weightlifters, CrossFit athletes, and other gym enthusiasts, is pain in the front aspect of the shoulder. Typically they are reporting pain with push ups, bench press and overhead pressing. The real problem here is the athlete doesn't understand what is going on and even worse, what to do in order to fix it!

Lets talk about the typical cause of anterior shoulder pain and then I will teach you how to fix it!

The most common cause is a generic term we call shoulder impingement. Simply put: When you raise your arm to shoulder height, the space between the acromion (bone) and rotator cuff/bicep tendon (muscle) narrows. When muscles are not functioning correctly (tight and/or weak) this narrowing can cause rubbing or contact between the bone and muscle tendon. Eventually, irritation and pain is the result.

This pain can also occur if muscles in the back of the shoulder are weak, allowing head of the shoulder to slide forward in the socket. The result is similar: irritation and pain to tendon structures on the top or front of shoulder.

So, how do you fix it?! Your best option is to always get it evaluated by a licensed physical therapist, preferably, someone who understands the type of exercise you enjoy doing! In the mean time, here are some things you can start doing on your own to fix the problem!

First, you need to stretch/mobilize tight structures that are contributing to the problem. Try these 3 exercises.

Upper Trap Lacrosse ball

Lat Stretch

Next, its time to strengthen posterior chain muscles that control your shoulder blade

Lower Trap Activation

Prone A, Y, T

Serratus Anterior

Please understand implementing these exercises is a shot gun approach. If you are ready to commit to solving your problem with a customized evaluation and treatment plan, then reach out to us today! Let's talk to see if we are a good fit to get you back to the activity and exercise you love!

Andy Johnson PT, DPT, OCS

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