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What do I do if my shoulder-strengthening exercise causes pain?

Rick Olderman
Physical Therapy
Strengthening exercises are meant to strengthen specific muscles and, of course, be pain free. For example, when performing wall slides (an exercise that teaches proper overhead shoulder mechanics and strengthens the trapezius muscle), we are generally targeting upper trapezius strength as well as promoting scapular rotation, elevation, and abduction. So if you feel fatigue in your shoulders or biceps or feel pain in your neck, then you should stop and pay attention to your form. You should feel the effort in the upper trapezius, between your shoulder and your neck -- and you should not feel pain in your shoulder after the exercise because it is designed to eliminate pain, not trigger it. So take a moment to visualize the muscles you are attempting to train.

Another method that works well for my clients is to rapidly and briskly tap the muscle we are targeting. Sticking with the Wall Slides example, you can rapidly tap the upper trapezius muscle, located between your shoulder and your neck to "wake it up." Feel whether it has become harder due to its contraction. Keep tapping it to connect your consciousness to the muscle and develop your awareness of it and get it firing.
Fixing You: Shoulder & Elbow Pain: Self-treatment for rotator cuff strain, shoulder impingement, tennis elbow, golfer's elbow, and other diagnoses.

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Fixing You: Shoulder & Elbow Pain: Self-treatment for rotator cuff strain, shoulder impingement, tennis elbow, golfer's elbow, and other diagnoses.

The shoulders are a floating system on the trunk, held in place and moved by muscular control. The foundation of shoulder movement is the shoulder blade which has precise resting and moving...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.