Getting and staying in shape can be very challenging.
It is so easy just to sit at home and engage with your tablet or smartphone.
We make so many excuses for not exercising, it is not even funny.
If you are like me, you love hitting the gym at least 3 times a week.
And if you are like most guys, you love working your arms.
Arms rank third behind six pack abs and a chiseled, define chest as the most admired male body part.
But what if you have recently noticed that you get shoulder pain from doing tricep dips?
Is this something that will resolve itself on it’s own or …
Perhaps have you injured one of the many muscles that make up your shoulder region?
Could it be your rotator cuff?
Here’s the thing:
Pain felt ONLY in the gym and while working out USUALLY comes down to your form and technique.
So that should be the first place you should focus on.
The way to big arms is definitely through your triceps for the simple reason that it is made up of 3 heads …
Whereas your bicep is simply one, single muscle.
The lateral head of your tricep muscle is what everyone wants to develop because it shows off that horseshoe shape of your tricep.
What this muscle does is move and extend your arms away from your midsection at your elbow.
Now we know a little more about your triceps, let’s get down to why doing dips can cause you shoulder pain.
Do you have a pre-existing shoulder condition?
For example have you been checked for acromioclavicular joint arthritis?
This is characterized by shoulder pain not only when doing dips but when reaching your arm across your body to reach for a seatbelt or perhaps even swinging a baseball bat or golf club.
To make a point …
The dip is an exercise used in strength training.
You can also refer to this great article over at stronglifts for more in depth info on the topic.
Narrow, shoulder-width dips are used for training triceps, the pectoralis muscles and the rhomboid muscles of the back.
To perform a dip correctly, the exerciser hangs from a dip bar, bench with their arms locked straight and shoulders over their hands, slowly lowers their entire body until their upper arm is parallel to the floor, and then lifts their body up, returning to the starting position.
Dips may be a very effective upper body exercise for building and shaping huge triceps but often they cause a lot of shoulder pain to people who workout a lot.
Overtime, it is not uncommon for individuals to complain frequently about shoulder pain – especially at night!
But there’s more …
You may notice the pain in your shoulder is at it’s worse when your upper arm is parallel to the floor.
Some people even report discomfort that shoots into their collar bone and neck.
You may notice some people who have present shoulder problems that they often bounce when they hit parallel with their upper arm to the floor.
I can’t say I agree with this.
This is an extremely dangerous way of handling this problem and can result in further injuries.
You are most likely only making your condition worse!
A stabbing pain is never a good sign.
To injure your shoulders, which are used for performing everyday tasks, can keep you out of the gym for sometime.
It should be kept in mind that not everyone’s body is strong enough to handle this exercise.
Food for thought …
Maybe speak to your Personal Trainer at your gym about whether dips are appropriate for you and if your technique is solid.
Apart from dips, there are many other exercises that help train and strengthen the triceps.
They may take a bit longer before becoming as effective as dips’, but they are definitely worth it if they save you the risk of injuring your body.
With the increase in the number of cases being reported about experiencing rotator cuff problems and injury from this specific exercise, you are better off avoiding it all together if you want to keep working out instead of sitting at home on your couch.
Don’t forget to read my post on how to best treat your rotator cuff and still be able to hit the gym.
Here are 8 tips to keep in mind:
- Switch between narrow and wider grips
At most gyms, the dip machines offer two different grips; wide and narrow.
If you are experiencing pain with the narrow grip try working out with the wide grip and vice versa.
- Stick with high reps instead of adding more weight and only doing 3-5 reps
You will get absolutely nothing if you go all crazy on dip and start maximizing it.
If you are doing heavy single and triples, this may be a test for your strength but it is not a source of building it.
Stay moderate and stick to high rep sets.
- Improve your active shoulder flexibility
There are a variety of exercises you can perform in order to increase the strength and flexibility of your shoulders Perform them first, may be as a warm-up each time you do dips.
- Cut your range of motion to parallel
A point to be kept in mind while doing dips is that it does not require you to go super deep.
Neither does going super deep add significant improvements in your body nor does it speeds up the process.
It is only good if you want to show off, but showing of at the expense of injuring your body?
Hm. Doesn’t sound nice to me.
However if you have a flexible body and have no shoulder pains, you can enjoy going super deep without worrying
- Give yourself enough rest
If you are having a tough exercise routine, your body sores and tires up way too quickly.
In this case, you need to rest your body more often and completely before moving on to the next set of tips.
Rest your body completely in between sessions.
Your shoulders should get enough time to recover during each break.
- Do not engage in wide grip and Vince Gironda style dips;
Avoid the urge to always perform wide grip dips.
They are shoulder and rotator cuff killers!
Gymnasts may be able to do it but as stated before, they have been working on their bodies since their childhood.
Therefore, they possess the needed flexibility.
- Be patient about your progress
The dips progress is generally known to be a very quick process.
The improvements in your body become pretty evident within days.
However, one should remain patient while expecting changes.
You have to first build a base before adding more weight or moving towards advanced variations.
Bill Starr, U.S. strength coach, gave a golden advice to people about adding weight to the dip only after they can do 3×20 with just their bodyweight.
- Stick with parallel bar dips
Bench dips are shoulder destroyers and are in fact more shoulder unfriendly than the parallel bar dip.
Our body is pretty evident in what it has to say about the exercising process, look for signals and listen to your body’s feedback.
The key point is here to be cautious while doing exercises and not ignore the body signs of pain.
You might have been taught that pains are common when you start exercising but if you start possessing unbearable pain, it is always a wise option to visit your trainer and Doctor.
But here is what you must understand!
If your pain is mostly at night, I can say with almost 100% certainty that you have injured one of the four rotator cuff muscles in your shoulder region.
To be sure, click on the button below where a short video will definitely put any questions or concerns you have to rest…
Along with 4 simple steps to help strengthen your shoulder at home.
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