Shoulder Overhead Press: Understanding and Easing Pain for Seniors

Say goodbye to discomfort and limited range of motion in your shoulders

Living a good life often means a lot of stress on your body. In our golden years, that wear and tear can become pain and discomfort. If you experience pain in your shoulders when you reach over head, then read on for potential causes and sure fire solutions.

Why You Have Shoulder Pain When Doing The Overhead Press

A common condition that affects shoulders as we age is rotator cuff tendinitis. Tendons are thick “cords” that attach our muscles to bones. Tendinitis is the condition that sees your tendons swelling which leads to discomfort in and around your joints. Most tendinitis can be treated with rest, physical therapy, and medication. While tendinitis can affect all tendons, it is most common in:

  • Shoulders
  • Elbows
  • Wrists
  • Knees
  • Heels

Another concern that may be leading to shoulder pain is limited mobility. Over the years wear and tear may have affected how easy it is to bring your arms up and over your head. While it’s natural to avoid those movements, avoiding it can lead to further mobility issues. To stay comfortable and active it’s important to keep moving, but always within the right level for yourself. If your mobility is a concern here are a few gentle chair yoga exercises you’ll want to check out.

How To Check Overhead Mobility

You may not know if you experience pain in your shoulder thanks to limited mobility, but it’s easy to find out. First lay down on your back, bend your legs, and keep your spine flat on the surface. Grab a stick or broom, and rotate your shoulders so your arms are sticking out above your head.

If you can reach over your head, it’s likely that mobility issues aren’t causing you any pain. This is likely the time to reach out to your medical professional and discuss the possibility of Rotator Cuff Tendinitis—which is very treatable.

5 Pain Relieving Shoulder Exercises

To help the discomfort in your shoulders while performing overhead presses and reaching overhead, there are a number of exercises that can help. Grab a chair for support and balance then it’s time to get into it. Here’s a gentle 20 minute full body workout if you’re looking for more.

Dumbbell Overhead Extension

  • With a light dumbbell in hand, bring it behind your head with your elbow bent and pointing up
  • Slowly raise your hand as high as you can or until your arm is straight
  • Repeat for five repetitions
  • Switch arms and repeat for 5 more repetitions

Dumbbell Curl with Shoulder Movement

  • Take a dumbbell in each hand
  • Starting on one side, bring the weight up halfway by bringing your elbow behind you
  • Complete the lift by rotating your shoulder and bringing your elbow forward so the weight is at shoulder height
  • Reverse the order and bring the weight back to the starting position
  • Repeat with your other arm
  • 10 repetitions total.

Alternating Loop Press Front and Overhead

  • Place your hands in a rubber resistance
  • Pull them apart so the band is taught
  • Keep your arms bent and hands pointed out straight
  • Extend your arms out straight
  • Bend your arms
  • Extend your arms straight above you
  • Bring your arms back down in front of you
  • Repeat for 5 repetitions

Dumbbell Press

  • Take a light dumbbell in hand
  • Bend your elbow so your hand is at shoulder level palm facing inward
  • Push your hand up while rotating your palm outward
  • Bring your arm back down
  • Repeat for 5 repetitions
  • Switch arms and repeat for 5 more repetitions

Arm Circles

  • Raise your arms out straight from your sides.
  • Rotate your arms in short forward circles for 15 seconds.
  • Rotate your arms in short backward circles for 15 seconds.

Your shoulders may ache when you reach overhead, but that shouldn’t hold you back. Work on your range of motion with stretches, and strengthen muscles with gentle exercises. Beat pain in your shoulder while reaching over head and while doing overhead presses. Soon enough you’ll be reaching higher and higher. Take out all the guesswork of what to do by simply following along with this “Improve Your Overhead Reach” Class.