Are overhead exercises are bad for you?

They are in almost every workout routine it seems: shoulder presses, incline bench presses and more. Our clients sometimes feel very strongly about them, one way or the the other. But are they bad for you or should everyone include them in their routine? 

No one answer is really the correct one. As a general precaution I would say they are not necessary for the average person in their routine but they are great exercises. It boils down to the individual. If you are having shoulder problems to begin with then it might be wise to have it properly assessed and addressed and avoid overhead work until the issues are resolved. Not so obvious at first would be our cubicle warrior. Being in a hunched over position for most of the day she might not be able to stand straight. She might have an increased kyphosis in her upper back that prohibits her to lift her arms over her head without really putting wear and tear on tendons in her joint and causing damage that could have been avoided.

It is always best to have a professional look at you but go to a mirror and look at your profile. If you have rounded shoulders even when standing straight there is a good chance you might want want to avoid overhead lifts.

Instead foam roll, stretch and see if your thoracic spine mobility increases. Strengthen your upper back muscles, do rows and chin ups, reverse flys and rotator cuff exercises  to counter the imbalance that you have compared to the chest, and anterior shoulder muscles.


Michael Anders

Head Trainer Shape Up Fitness & Wellness Consulting

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