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What Exercises to Avoid With Shoulder Impingement

author image Amanda Davis
Amanda Davis began writing in 2010 with work published on various websites. Davis is a dietetic technician, registered, personal trainer and fitness instructor. She has experience working with a variety of ages, fitness levels and medical conditions. She holds a dual Bachelor of Science in exercise science and nutrition from Appalachian State University and is working toward her master's degree in public health. Davis will be a registry eligible dietitian in May 2015.
What Exercises to Avoid With Shoulder Impingement
Bench presses can aggravate shoulder impingement symptoms. Photo Credit Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images

Shoulder impingement is characterized by severe shoulder pain. The condition results from ligaments of the shoulder or rotator cuff muscles being pinched between the shoulder joint. This pinching causes inflammation that results in discomfort and pain. If you're suffering from shoulder impingement, avoid certain exercises that could aggravate the condition and cause further discomfort.

Overhead Activities

Overhead exercises tend to exacerbate shoulder impingement. Avoid exercises such as lat pulldowns, overhead presses and bench presses. Repetition of such movements can increase inflammation and pain. Add these exercises back to your regimen only if advised to do so by a medical professional or if your symptoms have completely subsided.


Stretching shoulder muscles with simple stretches can help strengthen the muscles and ligaments that are causing your pain. Target the rotator cuff muscles with overhead reaches, across-the-body stretches and side reaches. Hold these stretches for approximately 30 seconds each. There should be no pain associated with any stretches.

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Avoid resistance exercises during periods of inflammation, and do not use added weights in the form of dumbbells and resistance machines. In other words, when in pain due to shoulder impingement, perform exercises that rely solely on the shoulder for movement. Resume resistance exercises only when advised to do so by medical professionals.

Special Considerations

Avoid any exercise that increases pain and discomfort, and rest and ice your shoulder during periods of impingement. Consult personal trainers, physical therapists and/or orthopedists, as these professionals can provide individualized advice for specific cases, and provide more detailed exercise prescriptions.

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