If you are getting niggling pain around the shoulder, keep reading for small ways to change the way you work out, so you don’t have to stop!

The shoulder is actually more complex than just one joint, it is made up of three joints that need to move fluidly together to give you overall shoulder movement. With lots of joints, we are given lots of movement!

The three joints are the; Scapulothoracic – between your shoulder blade and rib cage; Acromioclavicular – between your shoulder blade and collar bone; and finally, Glenohumeral – between your upper arm and the shoulder blade.

There are also a lot of muscles that work to control these three joints. They all lie in their allotted spots very close to bones and other things such as blood vessels and nerves. The need to work together closely to move the shoulder and work best when they are all in alignment. You can imagine it like a piece of string moving through an open door, it will move freely and easily without friction. Compare this to string moving around a corner. It will still slide around but it is slightly harder to pull and friction and fraying may occur where the string touches the corner.

Finally, there are small structures called bursa – which you can think about as little blisters that lay between the muscles and bones that fill up with fluid when things are rubbing against one another. They are there to protect your bones and muscles but can unfortunately hurt when they are inflamed. There are certain positions that help you avoid pressing on these bursae when they are inflamed to reduce your shoulder pain but still allow you to get a good work out in.

So, here are my tips to put your shoulder joints in a better position to take care of your muscles and avoid inflaming the bursae.


If you turn your hand up, the twist will move all the way up the arm to the shoulder to open the front of the shoulder and chest. This avoids “slouching” that may be pinching on different bursal structures and helps position the joints in a way that optimises the use of the stabilising muscles of the shoulder.

For this reason, I would suggest using dumbbells or a cable machine instead of a bar as you have more flexibility to hold yourself in a posture that “opens” your shoulder.



Keep your hands in front of your body. Taking your hands out to the side or behind you can put a lot of stress on the muscles of the shoulder. Something they wouldn’t be ready for if your shoulder is sore. This may mean not going so far out when doing a pec fly or avoiding a deltoid raise for the time being.



Keeping your elbows bent or in front of the body will help reduce the stress similar to keeping your hands in front. This could mean altering your pec fly to be done with bent elbows instead of straight or doing a shoulder press with the elbows facing the front instead of the side.

When the pain in your shoulder starts to calm down, its important to move slowly into more “aggressive” exercises again to work the shoulder in all its possible positions. But when its sore, keep it simple! If the pain doesn’t calm down, come in and see us.