Shoulder Pain with Overhead Press

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It is not uncommon for clients with shoulder pain or hypermobility to also have pain with an overhead press. An overhead press is a great way to strengthen your shoulders and a functional exercise that mimics putting an object in a higher cabinet or placing your carry-on luggage in the overhead bin. A few things could be going on for one to have shoulder pain with overhead movement, you will need to consult a physical therapist for your specific diagnosis and plan of care. This is general information.

Shoulder Range Of Motion

First, you need to make sure you have enough shoulder range of motion to complete the movement. If you are currently experiencing shoulder pain and are not able to fully lift your arm to perform an overhead press, you will want to work on your range of motion, and gradually build up to a landmine press first. A landmine press is a great way to work on some strength with a modified range of overhead movement. You would want to start in a standing position, and press to the 1/2 kneeling position below.


On the other hand, those who are hypermobile, have more than the average shoudler range of motion. If you are new to lifting/exercising, it is important to build shoulder stability, as well as strength. With overhead presses, it can be painful to hyperextend into the press because you are placing your joint in its end range of motion, then adding external weight onto that. I would recommend also starting with a landmind press, while incorporating other strability and proprioception exercises. Propricoception means knowing where your body is in space. It is important to have the awareness of where your body is in spcae with hypermobility to not over stress you joints.

Accessory Exercises

Assuming you have enough range of motion to perform an overhead press, it is also important to have enough scapular (shoulder blade) control. As you raise your arm overhead, you shoulder blade has to rotate updawards to allow for this motion. It is important that you work on strengthening the muscles surrouding the shoulder blade to support it for overhead movment. Some examples of exercises are face pulls, I/T/Y, single arm rows, etc.

Have pain with overhead presses? Schedule a complimentary consultation here to get back to moving pain free. Learn more about physical therapy services here.

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