Shoulder Impingement? No Problem: How to Keep Weightlifting Safely

If you suffer from shoulder impingement, weightlifting can be a challenging activity. But that doesn’t mean you have to avoid it altogether. With proper technique and modifications, you can still enjoy the benefits of weightlifting while minimizing the risk of further injury.

In this article, you will learn deeper about shoulder impingement, starting from the causes, and symptoms, how you can lift weights with the condition around you, the treatment for it, and the prevention. Let’s keep reading to learn more.

Understanding Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement is a common condition that occurs when the tendons and bursa in your shoulder become compressed or pinched between the bones in your shoulder. This can cause pain, weakness, and limited range of motion in your shoulder.

Causes of Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor posture, overuse, trauma, and age-related changes. Weightlifting can also contribute to shoulder impingement, especially if you perform exercises that involve overhead movements, such as overhead presses or pull-ups.

Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement

The symptoms of shoulder impingement can vary depending on the severity of the condition, but common symptoms include pain in the front or side of the shoulder, weakness in the shoulder, and limited range of motion. You may also experience pain when lifting your arm overhead or when reaching behind your back.

Weightlifting with Shoulder Impingement

If you have shoulder impingement, you may be wondering if you can still lift weights. The answer is yes, but you need to be careful and modify your workouts accordingly. Here are some tips for weightlifting with shoulder impingement.

Consulting with a Doctor

Before you start lifting weights, it’s important to consult with a doctor or physical therapist. They can assess your condition and recommend exercises that are safe for you to do. They may also recommend that you avoid certain exercises that could aggravate your shoulder impingement.

Modifying Exercises

To avoid aggravating your shoulder impingement, you should modify your exercises. For example, you can do exercises that don’t require you to lift your arms over your head, such as lateral raises or front raises with dumbbells. You can also use lighter weights and do higher reps to reduce the strain on your shoulders.

Avoiding Certain Exercises

There are certain exercises that you should avoid if you have shoulder impingement. These include exercises that require you to lift your arms over your head, such as overhead presses or pull-ups. You should also avoid exercises that put a lot of stress on your shoulders, such as bench presses or push-ups.

In conclusion, weightlifting with shoulder impingement is possible, but you need to be careful and modify your workouts accordingly. Consult with a doctor or physical therapist, modify your exercises, and avoid certain exercises that could aggravate your shoulder impingement. With these tips, you can continue to lift weights and stay in shape without putting your shoulders at risk.

Rehabilitation for Shoulder Impingement

If you already have this condition, there are several ways to treat it. There’s physical therapy, medication, and, if the situation is bad, surgery.


Physical Therapy

When dealing with shoulder impingement, physical therapy can be an effective method for rehabilitation. Your physical therapist will guide you through a series of exercises and stretches designed to help strengthen the muscles surrounding your shoulder joint and improve your range of motion.

These exercises may include rotator cuff strengthening, scapular stabilization, and stretching of the chest and shoulder muscles.


In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help manage the pain associated with shoulder impingement. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce inflammation and pain.

Additionally, your doctor may recommend corticosteroid injections to help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.


If conservative treatments such as physical therapy and medication do not provide relief, surgery may be necessary.

There are several surgical options for shoulder impingement, including arthroscopic subacromial decompression, which involves removing a small portion of bone and tissue to relieve pressure on the rotator cuff. Your doctor will discuss the best surgical option for your specific case.

Preventing Shoulder Impingement

It causes pain, and, therefore, nobody wants to suffer from it. If you tick the checkboxes of the following points, you’ll save yourself from all the pain of shoulder impingement.

Proper Form

To prevent shoulder impingement while weightlifting, proper form is crucial. Make sure to keep your shoulders down and back, and avoid rounding your shoulders forward. Additionally, keep your elbows tucked in and avoid flaring them out to the sides. Engage your core and glutes to maintain stability and control throughout the movement.

Gradual Progression

Another important factor in preventing shoulder impingement is gradual progression. Don’t try to lift too much weight too quickly, as this can put unnecessary strain on your shoulders. Instead, start with light weights and gradually increase the weight as your strength and technique improve. Focus on perfecting your form before increasing the weight.

Rest and Recovery

Rest and recovery are also crucial for preventing shoulder impingement. Make sure to give your shoulders adequate rest between workouts, and avoid overtraining. Incorporate rest days into your workout schedule and listen to your body. If you feel pain or discomfort in your shoulders, take a break from weightlifting and focus on rest and recovery.

In summary, preventing shoulder impingement while weightlifting requires a proper form, gradual progression, and adequate rest and recovery. By following these guidelines, you can reduce your risk of injury and enjoy the benefits of weightlifting without compromising your shoulder health.


Incorporating weightlifting into your fitness routine can be a great way to improve your overall health and fitness. However, if you have shoulder impingement, it’s important to approach weightlifting with caution.

By following proper form and technique, using lighter weights, and avoiding exercises that exacerbate your shoulder impingement, you can still enjoy the benefits of weightlifting without causing further damage to your shoulder.

Remember to listen to your body and seek the advice of a medical professional before starting any new exercise routine. With a little extra care and attention, you can safely incorporate weightlifting into your fitness routine and achieve your fitness goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are additional questions about this topic to further enlighten you.

Can I still weight lift with shoulder impingement?

Yes, you can still weight lift with shoulder impingement, but you need to be careful and modify your exercises. Avoid overhead presses, pull-ups, and dips, as these movements can aggravate your shoulder impingement. Instead, focus on exercises that work your chest, back, and arms without putting too much stress on your shoulders, such as push-ups, rows, and bicep curls.

Should I do rotator cuff exercises?

Yes, doing rotator cuff exercises can help alleviate shoulder impingement. Strengthening your rotator cuff muscles can improve your shoulder stability and reduce the risk of impingement. Some effective rotator cuff exercises include external rotations, internal rotations, and scapular retractions.

How can I prevent shoulder impingement?

To prevent shoulder impingement, make sure to warm up properly before weightlifting and stretch your shoulders and upper back regularly. Also, avoid overtraining and give your shoulders enough rest and recovery time between workouts. Finally, use proper form when weightlifting and avoid exercises that put too much stress on your shoulders.

When should I see a doctor?

If you experience persistent pain or weakness in your shoulder, or if your shoulder impingement does not improve with rest and physical therapy, you should see a doctor. Your doctor can evaluate your condition and recommend appropriate treatment, such as medication, injections, or surgery, if necessary.

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