The Shoulder Exercise That May Be Destroying Your Joints (And How to Fix It)

The orthopedic surgeons at Arizona Bone & Joint Specialists see all kinds of patients with varying levels of injuries and pain. While it’s true that not all injuries and conditions should be treated the same, our team has noticed a pattern in how these ailments are being reported, especially around this time of year. Having said that, we do feel it’s important to address the common shoulder exercise that may be destroying your joints.

Exercise Intervention: Why Now?

Let’s start from the beginning and explain why we’re writing this blog in the first place. March marks a unique chapter in the lives of most people. By now, only a small percentage of the population’s New Year’s resolutions have made it to this point – a.k.a. the 60+ day marker. Still, there are people out there who are continuing to fight and work at achieving their goals. Because “losing weight” and “healthy eating” make up the majority of New Year’s resolutions, it’s not uncommon for our team to see patients with orthopedic injuries around this time of year.

Think about it. Most people who are choosing weight loss or healthy eating as New Year’s resolutions are doing so for a reason – they’re unhealthy right now and they need to make a change to improve their self-esteem, overall health, physical appearance, etc. These individuals are usually hitting the gym with little knowledge of what it takes to safely and effectively drop some lbs. As a result, they perform exercises incorrectly, putting increased and unnecessary pressure on the joints, muscles, and bones, only to cause moderate to severe injuries.

Over time, those injuries can’t be ignored, which is why the team at Arizona Bone & Joint Specialists is seeing new patients every day, and many of these patients require physical therapy, or in severe cases, minimally invasive surgery.

A Common Complaint: Shoulder Pain

A common injury that’s being reported right now is pain in the shoulder muscles and joints. When patients explain how they developed this injury, it’s usually from improper form during a weightlifting shoulder exercise. Or, patients are performing common weight-bearing exercises incorrectly.

No matter the reason, the orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists at Arizona Bone & Joint Specialists have taken it upon themselves to provide a quick, educational tip on a common shoulder exercise that may be destroying your joints. This may come as a surprise, but bear with us! 

The Shoulder Pain Culprit: Push-Ups

It may seem silly and unnecessary to address the issues with this exercise, but push-ups, when performed incorrectly, can cause severe damage to the joints and muscles around the shoulders and elbows. Many newcomers to fitness programs perform push-ups the only way they know how: with their arms and elbows extended outward. This is not the correct way to perform a push-up. In fact, this stance is incredibly damaging and ineffective for your fitness goals.

Another mistake people make is confusing quantity over quality. Instead of performing the push-up properly at a slower and steadier pace, patients are speeding through the motion and not concentrating on the mechanics of a perfect push-up. Fortunately, if you want the fix, we’ve got the fix. And the best part? It’s a minor tweak that will make a significant difference.

Push-ups can have a wide or narrow grip as long as your hands are placed in a nearly vertical line from your shoulder blades. It’s also important not to flare your elbows outward. Instead, try bringing your elbows close and tight to your sides, so they’re making a 45-degree angle. The points of your elbows should be pointing backward, not to the sides. This will put less stress on your shoulder joint and collarbone.

Shoulder blade movement is also important – make sure that your shoulder blades are pinching together on your way down and separating as you move up toward the start position.

If you’re still having trouble executing this move, call Arizona Bone & Joint Specialists today to speak with a physical therapist. Our team will work with you to ensure you are making the correct movements during your exercise routine.

Arizona Bone and Joint Specialists is located in Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona and have convenient onsite services including physical therapy and imaging. For more information, make an appointment by calling the Scottsdale office at 602-493-9361 or the Phoenix office at 602-863-2040

The advice and information contained in this article are for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.