If you have been lifting weights for any length of time, you may have noticed that you have developed some shoulder pain. It usually nags in the front part of your shoulder, and some people may even seek medical attention for a nagging, dull and sort of numbing feeling in their arm.
Often times, the pursuit of physical health and strength can be the culprit! Shoulder Impingement Syndrome (SIS) happens when the structures of the shoulder become compressed around the glenohumeral joint. This is the most common cause of shoulder pain and accounts for approximately 30-35% of shoulder disorders. The main risk factor for SIS is repetitive activity at, or above the level of the shoulder during work or sports. I have had experience with this personally, and have seen it many times with athletes I have worked with. Most people do not want to give up training, and while rehabbing this injury is a whole topic unto itself, I want to help you AVOID this condition. I do firmly believe that PREVENTION > CURE.
Here are some alternatives to the traditional barbell bench press, pushups, and barbell overhead presses which can so commonly be the aggravating cause for SIS. I prefer to have clients do each side independently, as opposed to using 2 DB/KB, as this helps to completely focus on each shoulder, and does not allow for any compensatory help from another limb or counterbalance weight. We want to work to create a better mind-muscle connection to really practice the most healthy movements and create better muscular development.
1. Single Arm Dumbbell Floor Press
Start this movement by laying on your side and cradling a dumbbell or kettlebell. Then, roll onto your back, bringing the DB/KB up to your chest. As you perform the movement, keep your palm neutral (facing in) and focus on squeezing your elbow close to your side instead of allowing it to flare out. This can be a common cause of glenohumeral stress, as can the forced extra range of motion that comes with pressing from a bench. By limiting your range of motion, and altering the grip with a tight elbow (as opposed to a barbell) you can put your chest and shoulder through a more anatomical range of motion without the added stress on your shoulders. This can also help to strengthen the “upper pec” or clavicular head of your pectoral muscle, an area commonly lacking in development for many bench press addicts.
2. Single Arm Dumbbell Z Press
For this next exercise, you can also use a DB or KB. Again, you will be working each side independently. Start again on the floor, and extend your legs out straight in front of you. If you feel unstable, widen your legs more for a lager “v” shape. You can also sit on a weight plate to slightly elevate your torso if you feel too inflexible for this floor position.
Next, bring your weight to your shoulder, and this one will also have a neutral (palm in) grip. Begin by pressing the weight straight up, again focusing on keeping that elbow in and not flaring it out away from your body. You will finish this movement with your arm full extended overhead, and your bicep near your ear. When you press overhead, really focus on crunching your ribcage down, and not overextending your back. Many people do this with overhead pressing in order to try and compensate for a lack of shoulder mobility, or strength (because it looks really cool to press big heavy weights overhead).
If your shoulders feel kind of banged up from too much barbell benching, or overhead pressing substitute or add these into your training for a while. If you are bored and you want to switch things up, go for this new challenge. Or, if you are stuck at home with only a DB or a KB and feel like you can’t build proper shoulder/chest development then give these exercises a try. You don’t need big heavy weights if you use the right exercises and techniques (i.e. why you hire a pro to train you, wink, wink).
If you want fully customized and personalized training, click my link below.
I would be happy to answer any questions. I can help you achieve your desired results, and we can come up with fitness programming for any level, equipment, and goals. Also, I have designed quarantine/holiday survival programming (with Santa’s help) with exercises like these that we can customize to help you stay fit at home, or at the gym, with very little equipment. Don’t let anything stop you from being your most healthy you. Strength is Medicine.
Special thanks to Marcus Filly for his YouTube demo videos, one of my favorite guys in fitness. check him out!