Hi sir,

I am have a very sharp pain on my left shoulder while doing exercise like bench press, incline press and push ups, it hurts with dumbbell exercise for chest too. It is making me depressed as the pain is getting worse. Your advice will be highly appreciated. 

– Tshewang Wangdi 

Hi Tshewang,

It is difficult to pin exactly what specific injury you are experiencing, but I am confident I can help you.

Mostly, shoulder pains are caused by over working the shoulder joint and surrounding muscle. Most people, men in particular, love over working the chest and shoulder muscle, which create a lot of stress to the shoulder joint, it’s connective tissue, rotator cuff muscle, and anterior deltoids.

Most of the time, exercise like heavy bench press, dumbbell press, bar dips, barbell and dumbbell shoulder press are the main culprits.

My advice to curing and preventing shoulder pain:

1. Do rotator cuff exercise: like internal and external dumbbell rotation. Not having strong rotator cuffs can lead to pain and injury because of the disparity in strength between our external shoulder muscle (deltoids) and internal muscle (Supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres major, teres minor.)

2. Use compound pressing movements sparingly: over use of the shoulder joint is the main reason for most shoulder pain and injury. Exercise like barbell press, incline barbell press, dumbbell press, barbell shoulder press, all create heavy stress to the shoulder joint. If your shoulder is just beginning to aggravate use compound pressing movement sparingly, and if it’s already hurt, stop all pressing moment and do only moves that don’t hurt your shoulder.

3. Don’t quit: pain and injury are part and parcel of consistent training and progression, accept it as an opportunity for you to train yourself with limitations, and to train in ways you have never thought possible. It is possible to maintain and improve physique while nursing an injury.

4. Rest: If need be let your shoulder rest and heal up completely. Time down from training is not time wasted. Unless you are preparing for a contest, time down is an investment in the longevity of your health and physique.

5. Be patient: just like your injury didn’t come over night, recovery will be slow and gradual. So be patient and practice restraint.

6. Doctor: even after following all of my advice your pain gets worse of doesn’t reduce, speak to a sport injury specialist or a physician.

Tshering Dorji
(Health & Fitness Guru. Three times Mr Bhutan) For queries email at


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