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Power Cleans and Shoulder Pain

I’ve posted a lot about shoulder issues, so this may seem old, but I’m wondering if power cleans are “rough” on the shoulder joint. I can do them pain free (is that my answer?), but I’m just wondering if they’re going to possibly be doing some damage, while I figure out what my issue is.

I’m front squatting and deadlifting - is there any benefit to maybe just doing high pulls? Basically working the 3 parts of the clean without the rotating or whatever required to catch the bar.

Just trying to find what I can and can’t do.

All movement is going to cause wear and tear over time. Not sure what you want to hear? Are there exercises that are worse than power cleans for your shoulders? Yes.

That’s pretty much what I needed to hear. Thanks.

I’ll give them a shot and just see how it goes.

The rotating part shouldn’t occur under load so it shouldn’t be a problem in that regard.

I think I aggravated my biceps tendon on the high pull part or when I lowered the weight once. Other than that I’ve been fine.

The only time cleans irritated my shoulder was when I caught the bar Crooked, with one shoulder higher or more rotated forward than the other. That put a bunch of pressure on the lower shoulder.

One benefit of high pulls is not having to turn your wrists over to catch the bar. You get most of the same triple extension POP without having to worry about the catch.

Another is just having another lift, similar to the full lift, but different. Sometimes in routines you seen heavier clean pulls after lighter cleans. Or pulls to work the low portion from the floor, then something from the high hang position to work the top portion, breaking the lift up.

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Why do you feel the need to do power cleans? Are you training for a sport?


That’s what I though (about the rotating). Thanks.


I don’t really mind catching the bar. My wrists are healthy and cleans don’t bother them at all, but I see what you mean. So you think, for example, if I’m deadlifting and doing high pulls, my clean will probably be progressing as well? I’m guessing the obvious answer is yes, but just wondering your thoughts.


No. Nothing competitive. Might try to pick up soccer next fall, with my city’s adult rec league. I think it’s mostly college kids my age and some middle aged dads who played back in the day, so it probably will be good conditioning, but the sport itself won’t be crazy competitive.

I would like to compete in Strongman and weightlifting (and possibly powerlifting) in the future, but am holding off until I figure out my shoulder. Honestly, I just really enjoy doing cleans (and high pulls). It’s fun for me. One of my favorite lifts.

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