If you perform an exercise and your shoulder starts hurting, stop the exercise immediately and see a doctor. With 17 different muscles, the shoulder is extremely complex. Even if the exercise doesn’t seem like it should be causing pain in a certain spot, the shoulder is so intricate that the exercise could very well be doing more harm than good.
If you’re experiencing shoulder pain, never do the following three exercises. Stay safe by following the recommended alternatives.
Celebrity trainers like to suggest the Bench Dip as a killer exercise to “tone up” the triceps. First, you should understand that you’ll start seeing definition in your arms by losing fat, not by doing Bench Dips. Second, a healthy shoulder is engineered to handle around 50 to 60 degrees of extension. Bench Dips force an extreme range of motion that can wreak havoc on shoulders that aren’t already at 100 percent.
Alternative: Stretch your latissimus dorsi. Find a door handle or doorway that’s tall enough and hold the stretch for a minimum of 2-3 minutes. No more old-school 30-second stretches—they’re for beginners. The longer you hold a stretch, the greater the influence you will exert on the tight soft tissue surrounding the restricted joint.
Incline Bench Press
The AC (Acromioclavicular) joint seems to get irritated during this exercise. Compared to the regular Bench Press, Inclines also force the humerus near maximal extension.
Alternative: Push-Ups. Many athletes require the scapula to move, which doesn’t happen in the typical Bench Press. Doing Push-Ups will re-educate your scapula on proper movement patterns. Be sure to touch your chest to the ground, then return to full extension, locking out your elbows. Keep your core and glutes tight throughout the entire movement.
Performed improperly, Lateral Raises (Weighted Jumping Jacks) can be one of the worst exercises for your shoulder. When you raise your arms past 80 degrees, you start crushing your rotator cuff muscles in the tiny subacromial spaces of your shoulders. After numerous repetitions, you create tiny bone spurs that tear the rotator cuff muscle. Eventually, you may not be able to lift your arm above your shoulder and could require surgery.
Alternative: Don’t lift weight above the middle of your chest. When you lift to your side, don’t go above 20 degrees below parallel.
Learn more about working out with a bad shoulder.