Exercise or Execution: Why Your Shoulders Really Hurt

Exercise or Execution: Why Your Shoulders Really Hurt

“No pain, no gain.” At least, that’s what people say, right?

Well, the above makes for a lovely saying to motivate yourself and finish an excruciating set of lateral raises. But following the tip might not always be in your best interest. 

Sometimes, pain isn’t an indicator of growth but of an impending injury, and you need to be careful. 

With that in mind, let’s review what constitutes good pain, how to make the difference, and more.

Pain: How to Tell The Difference

Experiencing a deep burning sensation in your muscles, especially during a high-rep set of presses or lateral raises, is good. It means that you’re training the deltoids effectively. Similarly, experiencing muscle soreness in the area after training should not cause alarm. 

But, if you’re experiencing genuine discomfort in your shoulders or intense pain, that could signal impending trouble. Use your best judgment and ask yourself if what you’re feeling is normal muscle discomfort or if you’re dealing with an issue that can evolve into an injury.

Three Solid Reasons Why Your Shoulders Hurt

  1. You’re Not Warming Up

Do you ever find yourself walking into the gym and starting your workout within a couple of minutes? If so, that could be one reason why your shoulders hurt. 

Warming up well before training is essential because it stabilizes our joints, warms up the synovial fluid, and helps us get in the groove for exercise. Warming up also lets us see how things are before lifting heavy weights. For example, if you’re experiencing some joint issues, it’s much better to find out while warming up than when you’re doing a heavy set.

  1. You’re Training With Poor Technique

The second apparent reason why your shoulders hurt relates to poor training practices. Our shoulders are a relatively unstable joint, and we need to maintain near-perfect technique to keep them safe. 

So, before ever thinking about lifting heavier weights, ensure that you’re training with good form. Filming some of your training sets can help you determine that.

  1. You’re Training Your Shoulders too Much

Effective training is about walking a fine line between doing enough and overtraining. The issue is that too many trainees don’t know where the line is and end up crossing it frequently. 

Training more than you should can stop you from recovering well and significantly stress your joints and connective tissues. Over time, that can result in overuse injuries and aches.

Most trainees can grow their shoulders well with 6 to 15 weekly sets. Begin on the lower end and gradually increase the workload.

How to Start Taking Care of Your Shoulders Right Now

Before diving into the point, it’s important to note that not all scenarios are the same, and not everyone can resolve shoulder pain alone. Sometimes, the best way to approach pain is to seek professional help.

That said, shoulder aches can often go away when trainees start taking better care of their training and recovery habits. Most notably, this means:

  • Doing moderate amounts of training and not overtraining yourself
  • Giving your shoulders at least 48 to 72 hours to recover before training them again
  • Warming up your shoulders well through a variety of arm motions before each session
  • Stopping a set if you feel significant pain
  • Using weights you can handle safely and not ego lifting
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