Is shoulder pain holding you back? It doesn’t have to. And it shouldn’t become your go-to excuse to skip that next workout.

You can still get in a stellar workout, without aggravating your shoulder pain. And interestingly, shoulder pain isn’t uncommon – even some of the greats have battled and persevered despite their shoulder injuries.

The shoulders are the most vulnerable joint in the human body. They have the most range of movement, which makes them easily susceptible to pain and injury. But again, they don’t have to hold you back.

Yes, bad shoulders can pose an irritating problem. Yet, there are an array of options out there. In this article, we give you all the info you need to make those strength gains, even with bad shoulders.

Replace Painful Exercises With Other Variations

It’s simple and effective. If one exercise causes pain, try a different one. The great thing about exercise is that there are so many options. Don’t think you can’t work out your chest just because you can’t do chest presses. Here are a few swaps you can use while your shoulders heal:

Replace chest presses with push-ups.

Chest presses target the pec muscles. But when you have an irritated shoulder, it may be difficult to perform. Luckily, the push-up works those chest muscles just as well. The push-up further allows your shoulder blades to move more, which activates the tiny stabilizer muscles across the shoulders and upper back.

Replace overhead presses with front raises.

The overhead press is a big no-no when it comes to shoulder problems. It can lead to impingement issues or aggravate already existing shoulder impingement issues. But you can still tone your shoulders – minus the pain. Try front raises. Make sure to keep your back straight throughout this exercise, as hunching forward may create various other problems. If pain occurs, stop or ease off.

Replace boxing with rowing.

A lot of shoulder issues come down to a weak upper back or a weak trapezius muscle. Most shoulder rehab programs involve strengthening these muscles. So while you may not be able to box, rowing can help you get back to where you were, as well as avoid aggravating your shoulders. Make sure when you pull back in your row to pinch your shoulder blades down and in. This will ensure you target those postural and trapezius muscles to get back to your A-game.

Replace tricep dips with tricep push-ups.

Again, back to the basics! Forego those painful tricep dips for push-up variations. It’ll take the pressure off of your shoulders, but keep up with your tricep strengthening routine.

Other Tips and Tricks for Working Out with Bad Shoulders

What else should you be aware of? We’ve got you covered. Here are 3 tips for mixing up your workout regime while your shoulders recover:

Tip #1: Switch up your grip.

If your grip is rotating your shoulders internally, you run a higher risk of injury. It can lead to rotator cuff problems and shoulder impingement issues. Try using a more neutral grip with the use of dumbbells. This means your palms are facing each other, and it also means the space in your shoulder joint isn’t restricted.

Trip #2: If you are prone to bad shoulders, avoid the barbell chest press.

This doesn’t mean you can’t do chest presses. It just means you shouldn’t do chest presses with a barbell. There are numerous other ways to do this exercise. You can use dumbbells or as aforementioned, try to incorporate more chest push-ups into your routine.

Tip #3: Perform more pull exercises.

Rotator cuff injuries frequently arise due to a weak upper back. These upper back muscles help hold your posture in place and may be the reason you experience bad shoulders on the regular. You can work these muscles via pulling motions, such as rowing, raises, pull-ups, and pull-downs. Make sure to include these in your upper body routine for a balanced fitness program.

Shoulder Rehab: Don’t Forget About ROM

While you’re at it and if you’re suffering from a shoulder injury, make sure to focus on your range of motion. If the pain becomes severe, we also recommend seeking out the advice of your healthcare provider or physical therapist.

However, if you don’t move your shoulder, you may risk a frozen shoulder. Try passively moving your shoulder through each direction. This may involve the use of pulleys. You may also choose to use the wall to crawl your hand upward. Resistance bands may also help to this effect.

Furthermore, if the injury has just happened, and you would rather avoid the shoulder initially, focus on working out your core and lower body. Bad shoulders don’t have to ruin your workout. There are many other ways you can work up a sweat!