How To Reduce Shoulder Pain When Lifting

How To Reduce Shoulder Pain When Lifting

Those with shoulder injuries will know first hand how painful a lift can be, whether that be through previous injuries or lack of mobility in the joint. It isn't uncommon for shoulder pain to be prominent in a variety of lifts, like bench press, squat or overhead press to name a few 

How Can You Fix The Problem?

For a lot of people, living with shoulder pain isn't necessary something that can be fixed permanently without seeing a physio or doctor. However, there are many ways to help get around these aches and pains quickly! 

Type Of Barbell

Firstly, the barbell you are using can be the problem. A standard straight bar doesn't offer much in terms natural movement or mobility when performing a squat or press, due to the fixed hand and arm positioning. Below outlines some great alternatives to try when performing a squat;

Barbells For Reducing Shoulder Pain:

Cambered Barbell

Curved Barbell

Safety Squat Bar

These three barbells have been proven to alleviate a lot of the strain in the shoulder when performing a squat. Due to the cambered nature of the barbells, your arm and hand positioning is further forward compared to a straight bar. Bringing the arms further forward will reduce stress on your shoulders and allow for a deeper squat.

A Swiss barbell is another great alternative for those with shoulder injuries. This bar is ideal for Bench pressing, with the option to use a more neutral hand position. This hand position puts less strain on the joint during the lift, while engaging areas of the muscle you wouldn't usually in a standard press. 

Exercises For Reducing Shoulder Pain

The types of exercises you are performing can add to the problem, if you are sticking to the same exercises that cause you pain, like a shoulder press for example, it may be time to mix up your training to get that mobility back into the joint. We will cover a few great exercises to try below! 


The Landmine press is a great exercise for slowly building mobility in your shoulder. By adjusting the angle of your torso, you can gradually increase the range of motion the shoulder is achieving. With the ability to adjust the weight in small increments, tracking progress can be very easy! The neutral grip adds to the shoulder-friendly nature of this press too.  

Dumbbell Pressing over barbell pressing can offer more free motion and a more natural hand position / shoulder movement when performing the press. A more neutral or pronated grip can also result in less stress in the shoulder joint compared to a standard barbell. 

Improving Shoulder Mobility

Improving the mobility of your shoulder prior to working out can alleviate a lot of the tightness and pain during your workout. Doing some resistance band work before starting your training can be ideal for loosening the muscles and getting movement into the joint. Following on from this, some light dumbbell work can begin to warm the muscles up and further reduce the tightness in the joint! 

Carrying out a series of stretches before, after or on rest days can help with reducing soreness in the joint. Here are some great stretches to try, with and without bands;

  • L-Arm Stretch
  • Prone Bent Arm Chest Stretch
  • Banded Shoulder Rotations
  • Band pull-apart¬†
  • Banded Face Pulls
  • Shoulder Flexion