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Shoulder Pain with Dips


A year or two ago i use to do dips all the time at the gym. I would usually work up to having a 35lb plate hanging from my belt. I stopped doing them for awhile because i changed routines, plus i sort of hurt the back of my left shoulder possible doing that or something else.

Anyways, i tried to do them a week ago with no weights at all and they were tough and afterwards i felt some pain in the back of my left shoulder, possible rotator cuff problem? I haven't done them since because i don't want to mess up my shoulder at all. Is this a normal thing and is this just an exercise i should avoid from now on?


It's not uncommon for guys to have shoulder pain with dips.

I'd take a break. Stick with horizontal pushing and pulling movements. finish upperbody workouts with some rotator cuff work. Mike Robertson and Eric Cressey have written a ton of stuff on this. Maybe in a few months try again.


Like i said it my post, i didn't do them for a year or so. I also do rotator cuff work once a week.


Probably stay away from them, but I found shortening the range of motion helps. Its still enough to hit the muscles which is what matters.


Yes, dips promote internal rotation of the humerus and protraction of the scapulars. (Essentially they put your shoulder in a funny position). Read Eric Cressey's Shoulder Saver articles, give dips a rest for now and work on doing a lot of rowing to tighten up your lower traps. If you have a slightly hunched posture (from working at a desk, for instance) then you need to work the exercises that pull your shoulder blades together rather than let them wing out, as dips do - you can then correct the shoulder imbalances that lead to pain and injury.


btw, if you suspect you have rotator cuff problems, maybe add some specific exercises at the end of a workout 3 times a week and try to stay away from exercises that irritate it - so basically every chest exercise. This is what I had to do, took about 2 months then another 6 weeks of slowly working my way back into it.

I'm now about where I left off before my shoulder started hurting, and its feeling great (touch wood).

Yea your chest will lose some size, but it comes back quickly. My friend had a similiar problem but couldn't face the fact he would lose muscle so he kept training and now his shoulder is 10x worse.


I really don't have any pain in my shoulder from doing anything else. I worked on my shoulders yesterday and did some internal and external rotation at the end of it and felt fine.

I also don't work at a desk so my posture it pretty good. If anything my chest is underdeveloped compared to my back.


If you never did dips again for the rest of your life, your training wouldn't skip a beat and you wouldn't be missing out on anything.

There are so many effective exercise options, don't sweat it.


I've experienced that pain before too, and I've never used anything other than body weight. I took a long break and made sure I got plenty of EFAs for a while before doing them again. I can do them now with no problems, but I only do them maybe once or twice a month.

For the lower part of the chest, nothing I've done comes close to the DOMS I get with dips. I don't know to what extent DOMS are an indicator of progress, but I don't feel I have adequately worked out without being sore somewhere.


Eric Cressey had something to say about dips: they can hurt your shoulder if your prone to that sort of injury.

Tilt your upper body forward, this would lower the risk.
I've had the same problem and decided to skip dips.


I agree with Colucci, if you simply stop doing them, you can replace them with another exercise easily at no detriment.

Why do something that just hurts? It certainly isn't a good hurt...


tip your upper body forward and keep a puffed out chest- same as bench, hold breath up and down


I agree with caveman101. It's a bit complicated, but I found the following method really helps keep your upper body forward and your chest puffed out: stand with your back to a fixed bar at waist height (such as on a Smith machine). Place a large exercise ball in front of you. Grab the bar with your palms facing foward about 18 inches apart. Then place the underside of your calves on the exercise ball, using the exercise ball to hold your body tilted significantly forward.

The underside of your legs will roll on top of the ball as you lower/raise yourself. This is essentially a variation of a tricep press done over the side of a bench, except your palms are facing foward to help keep your shoulders as far back as possible. It also allows you to use a weight belt (worn backwards) to add additional weight.


whoa man my head hurts from trying to picture that. Is it some kind of way to make the smith machine into a torture device?