4 Ways to Avoid Shoulder Impingement at the Gym

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4 Ways to Avoid Shoulder Impingement at the Gym

At Core PT, we always encourage our patients to work on strengthening their muscles. Unfortunately, sometimes that’s the very reason why we end up seeing them in the first place. One common injury we see among gym enthusiasts is shoulder impingement.

This condition causes you pain when you need to reach overhead to get something or when you try to put on a shirt. Left untreated, it can potentially become a rotator cuff tear.

Here’s a few things you can do during your workout to avoid shoulder impingement:

  1. Don’t Do Too Much Too Soon.

Trying CrossFit for the first time? Try their on-ramp classes first. Getting into baseball? Increase your pitch counts gradually. Hitting the gym for the first time in a while? Start off small, even if it feels too light at first. Many people get themselves into trouble when they try to jump feet first into their chosen activity.

  1. Posture Is Key.

In our earlier blog about avoiding swimming shoulder, we talked about the importance of posture   when it comes to prevention. The same is true of shoulder impingement. Shoulders should be back and your chest open, whether you’re walking or sitting down.

  1. Rest and Ice after a Tough Workout.

This may seem like overkill, but keeping small amounts of inflammation under control is important to keeping your shoulders from becoming impinged. Make sure you apply ice for 20 minutes after you’re home from the gym. Get a good night’s rest after you’ve challenged your muscles to give them time to repair. Your muscles will thank you!

  1. Focus On All Your Muscles.

All too often, people tend to work on the muscles that they can see directly in front of them in the mirror, which are the chest and the ones on the front of the shoulder. This means that the muscles in the back that surround the shoulder blade become neglected.  This imbalance can lead to inflammation and ultimately shoulder impingement.

To avoid this, make sure you do upper-body exercises that include both pushes and pulls. For example, if you do push-ups, counter it with time on the rowing machine. Counter an overhead press with pull-ups.


At Core PT, we encourage you to continue working on your strength. We hope your athletic journey never causes you pain, but in case it does, we’re here. In the state of Iowa, you don’t need permission from your doctor to seek out treatment from a physical therapist, so you may be able to make an appointment with us directly!


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