Overhead Press Pain: The FIX You’re Missing

4 Exercises That Alleviate Shoulder Pain FAST!

If you’ve got overhead press pain, you’ve got to try these three fixes to help loosen up your arms and take stress off the shoulders.

Overhead pressing can be troublesome because it requires a lot of shoulder mobility to ensure solid technique. Without it, you can expect your low back to arch, your shoulder to ache, and your weights to be small.

But good news!

I’ve got three movements that will loosen up your shoulders and help you with any pain while overhead pressing.

Check out the video and post below to learn about it.

Get Lower Rib Cage

First, it’s important to place attention on the lower rib cage.

If the lower ribs are flared out, then the upper lung will have trouble filling and supporting the shoulder blade. And no shoulder blade stability means no shoulder joint mobility!

To cue this rib cage position, I like quadruped on elbows.

Quadruped on Elbows

  1. Start on elbows and knees, forming a triangle shape with your forearms
  2. Exhale slowly and pull the belly up toward the ceiling while tucking the hips
  3. Press the palms flat into the ground
  4. Push the inner elbow through the ground making sure to stay long from top of the head to tail
  5. Take an easy inhale through the nose
  6. Exhale slowly, but fully, sighing out through the mouth
  7. Pause for 5 seconds before repeating for 5 breaths

Mistakes to look out for:

  • Don’t crunch when exhaling. Ribs coming backward is important, but we don’t want the entire torso to hunch over.
  • Don’t let the arms get lazy. Cue pressure through the palms and elbows throughout.

Lower Posterior Expansion

Once we have the desired lower ribcage shape, we can improve the thoracic rotation needed to press overhead

I like to learn this asymmetrically and the cross-connect roll is a great option.

Cross Connect Roll

  1. Start on your back with a bolster under your head
  2. Hold a yoga block between your right knee and left elbow
  3. Exhale slowly and let the belly sink toward the floor
  4. Squeeze the block with the knee and elbow
  5. Maintain pressure on the block while turning the body side-to-side
  6. Inhale – roll
  7. Exhale – back to start
  8. Repeat for 10 reps and then switch sides

Mistakes to look out for:

  • Don’t crunch when exhaling. You might notice your head start to rise off the bolster; this is a no-no.
  • If keeping pressure on the block is too difficult, you can find a larger bolster or minimize the amount of rolling.
  • If the exercise feels too easy, increase the difficulty by reducing the size of the bolster and rolling more.

Progressive Shoulder Flexion

Our first two movements—quadruped on elbows and the cross-connect roll—should be performed before this next one. We cannot ensure shoulder flexion if the rib cage can’t do what you need it to do.

Once set, though, we can teach the arm to move independently of the shoulder. To do this, I like starting with the quadruped on elbows crawl or bear crawl.

Quadruped on Elbows Crawl

  1. Start on elbows and knees, forming a triangle shape with your forearms
  2. Exhale slowly and pull the belly up toward the ceiling while tucking the hips
  3. Press the palms flat in the ground
  4. Push the inner elbow through the ground making sure to stay long from top of the head to tail
  5. Maintaining this torso position, gently step backward with the opposite leg and arm
  6. Repeat for 10 steps on each side

Mistakes to look out for:

  • Don’t crunch when exhaling
  • Don’t let the arms get lazy
  • Make sure the torso stays set while the arm moves

Bear Crawl

This is a slight increase in difficulty over the quadruped-on-elbows crawl.

  1. Start on hands and knees
  2. Exhale slowly and pull the belly up toward the ceiling while tucking the hips
  3. Press the palms flat into the ground
  4. Stay long from the top of the head to tail
  5. Maintaining this torso position, gently step backward with the opposite leg and arm
  6. Repeat for 10 steps on each side

Mistakes to look out for:

  • Don’t crunch when exhaling
  • Don’t let the arms get lazy
  • Make sure the torso stays set while the arm moves

Need More Help with Your Overhead Press Pain?

We’ve run through my four favorite exercises to increase your shoulder mobility and help you out with your overhead press pain:

  1. Quadruped on elbows
  2. Cross-connect roll
  3. Quadruped on elbows crawl
  4. Bear Crawl

These really are my go-to exercises, but what if you’re still experiencing overhead press pain?

First, I would give these exercises time to work. Sometimes the pain goes away instantaneously, but sometimes it takes a few weeks.

Second, you should look at other areas of your training. Maybe you need a more extensive warm-up, some cues on your overhead presses, or some alternative to do in the meantime that will still build big, strong shoulders.

If that’s the case, well you’re in luck. I’ve enlisted my buddy, Lance Goyke, to put together his top hacks for fixing and working around your overhead press pain.

Overhead Press Pain? 4 LIFE-CHANGING Exercise Hacks

You might even see yours truly in his video 😉