Shoulder Pain With All Chest Exercises and DB Shrugs, but Not with OHP

Hi All!

I injured my right shoulder a few months back. For the first month or 2 I couldn’t even do push-ups. I was doing medium grip incline press and it felt off after, has been sore since.

Interestingly, I can lateral raise and do OHP, but I can’t bench, do chest flies, dips, etc without at least some discomfort or full blown pain. Also, while I can shrug a barbell, if my hands are beside my body like with DBs, it hurts at the top of the shoulder around that bone just between my traps and shoulder muscle. Same place as where everything else hurts. When it really hurts I can’t even do push-ups.

Anybody had a similar experience? How did you fix it?

Thank you!

My best recommendation is don’t do what hurts.
Plus the younger you are, the faster you will heal.

Also, in the short term, you won’t lose much bench press strength if you can do OHP. Have you tried incline press?

Thank you!

I’m trying to avoid what hurts, I’m kind of experimenting to see what I can actually do.

Incline is what caused the injury, and still hurts even more than flat press.

have you been to a Dr to get some images?

No, I’m quite bad at going to Drs. I only go if I absolutely have to.

Although I am considering seeing a professional about it, it’s just a question of money.

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I got sent to physical therapy. learned some mobility exercises, got cold packs, and massages. fixed me right up.

I do the rubberband exercises to warm up to this day.

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Definitely helps when you get a good guy to look at you. Last time I had money for it I went to a professional about my back, had zero to minimal issues since. And like you, I still had the exercises he gave me. If it doesn’t resolve itself I’ll likely put some aside and see him again with my shoulder.

have you looked up shoulder rehab exercises with bands on youtube?

a few minutes a day may help.

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I have looked up and tried a lot of them but they are mostly neutral or worsen the issue. Forward and backward scapular movement hurts even with band pull aparts, I can only do them if I keep my shoulders pinched back like when I’d normally bench.

I like voodoo floss.

I also like when you bend over and let your arm hang dead, then move it in a circle like you are stirring something in a barrel. both directions


I’ll give these a try, thank you!


These are actually one of the most basic interventions for the shoulders. Considering the obvious lack of information re your problem - I would honestly advise you to try these for a week in order to see if it works. But, in order to make this method effective you need to perform them frequently and thus integrate them into your daily life. I recommend doing a one minute focused arm circle every time you visit the bathroom/toilet - which means about 5-10 times daily.

Needless to say, you should rest your shoulders during this week, absolutely avoiding any painful movements (maybe focus on lower body work instead for the indirect effect).

Your problem can be an overtraining injury to the rotator cuff or the pectoralis insertion, but may also be aggravated by shoulder imbalance as well as physionomy. I highly recommend seeing a physiotherapist for proper examination.


I thought I had a torn rotator cuff. I went in for imaging.

It was much worse. I need a total shoulder in my left shoulder. The ball sits about 3/4 an inch back into the socket and the cartilage is completely gone in the socket. All of my tendons / ligaments are thick and solid.

Years of heavy abuse leading with that shoulder and heavy lifting has worn it out.

I say that to say - I would get it looked at if it continues to bother you to make sure it is not something serious.


It sounds like an AC joint injury - you said it hurts at the top of the shoulder? If you have an AC joint injury you may be able to do lateral raises but front raises will hurt much worse. Do you have a noticeable lump or separation at the AC joint on that side? Look in the mirror and compare the AC joint bump on each side. If they are different you have an issue.

I had a similar issue. Any weight on bench hurt like hell at the AC joint. I stopped all benching and shoulder work for a few weeks. Then I started benching again starting with 95 lbs 3x10 and slowly working back up. Im guessing you may have an issue with your scapula winging up during upper body pressing. It happens from too much chest work, not enough back and trap work (lower traps). I had to re-learn benching and make sure my lower scaps are held down during benching and other pressing / delt raises. The scapula are attached to the AC joint and cause issues if its not held down. You may never be able to do dips again or use heavy weight.

Start with the bar do some benching reps with the scaps held down. See if the pain gets better. If it is the AC joint you may want to use a shoulder sling for a few days maybe a week to let it heal before starting to bench again.

If it doesn’t get better I’ll have to get it looked at, as much as I consider these doctor visits a nuisance more than anything.

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I used to as well until I started getting old and broken from use and abuse.

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That is the area where it hurts, yes. I don’t think the difference is visibly noticeable, or I really have to pay attention to it, but I can definitely feel more of a lump on my bad side when I touch it. Very minor difference though.

And it even causes discomfort to press on the lump.

I can just about bench with the bar, it’s not as sore, but still uncomfortable. What you are describing sounds a lot like what I have.

The only thing is, my back volume usually at least matches my pressing volume, so I don’t know how it could be weak. Although I could be using the wrong part of my back and not stimulate the weak part.

It will be tender to touch the AC joint if it is injured. Basically its moving too much, but it sounds like yours is on the slighter side of an AC joint injury. Worst case is complete separation of the joint.

Its not that the back muscle are weak, just that a tighter chest and shoulders causes hunching over forward which leads to all kinds of issues.

Another thing that helped me after resting it was doing exercises that work the lower trap. That is the muscle that primarily holds the scaps down. Y-raises work the lower traps. I think H-rolls also do but I would wait until you feel its healed before doing H-rolls.

Any clicking or clunking noises when you move your arm?

I think conventional squatting can also prevent the AC joint from healing because your arms are pulled way back and it puts pressure on the joint. I bought a top squat attachment for that reason. If you have access to a safety squat bar or similar, use that for all squatting until its better.

I-Y-T-W raises a, face-pulls, band tears were all regular parts of my training, also my favourite ways to get volume in with minimal fatigue after rows or pull-ups. Although now I have to focus even on those movements to avoid flaring up the bad shoulder.

No clicking when I move. At least not a regular or reoccurring one, obviously most of my joints click or crack here and there but not in an alarming way.

Unfortunately the gym I’m in has no special squat attachments, all I can really do is trap bar, machine work, or 1 leg squats if I can’t squat. That’s worse than not being able to bench lol. I will look into the top squat attachment though.

Thank you!