I believe I have pulled some muscle in my shoulder.

I do not know what muscle it is, but it feels "small" - the pain is very localized, and I can feel the pain when I massage the muscle.

I think the muscle is the anterior deltoid.

I feel pain when doing any chest pushing exercises - more pain when doing incline bench, least pain when doing decline bench.

Lots of pain when doing shoulder press, I can't even do this exercise because of the pain.

I have so far been limiting myself to decline bench and pec fly machine (the pec fly machine seems to keep the pain at bay because it restricts my form and isolates my pecs exclusively, no arm muscles at all).

I was aggressively exercising chest, and seeing results.

I want to get back into that, but I cannot with this shoulder pain.

I gave it one full week of rest - no gym for 7 days. I returned to the gym after the time off, benched, and the pain is back!

What other chest exercises can I do without aggravating the (I think) anterior deltoid?

  • 1
    Do you know what is causing the shoulder pain? I had a similar problem a while back and it turned out to be tendinitis. Have you tried medicating with anti-inflammatories or seen a doctor? It sounds as if you will need to maybe lay off pressing movements for a while.
    – user10019
    Jul 11, 2014 at 18:19
  • I don't know what's causing it exactly. I will try otc anti-inflammatories before I see the doc.
    – Josh
    Jul 11, 2014 at 21:14
  • Ice and deep heat/tiger balm would probably help also. I'd probably stick to front squats for the time being as well. Any sort of back squat has the ability to pull on the anterior delt and also the tendons of the bicep. Hope this helps.
    – user10019
    Jul 12, 2014 at 5:43
  • 1
    After pulling a muscle, if that indeed is the case, you ned a period of rehabilitation. That is, you have to ease into training. 7 days of rest is inadequate for muscle tissue to reform. A better way is to rest 3-4 days (during the acute phase), with ice and compression. Then start doing minimal tension exercises with high rep counts, well beneath the pain threshold. Following that rule you will increase loading as the muscle heals. There are no shortcuts in training. Even less so when dealing with injuries. Jul 12, 2014 at 9:48

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately, you really can't do much with the pecs without involving the anterior deltoid. The anterior delt works with transverse flexion (Any kind of movement bringing the upper arm from the side towards the center) and as a stabilizer of the shoulder girdle.

Any kind of pressing motion will aggravate this. As you've noticed, the more emphasis towards the shoulder (upper lifts) as opposed to the decline lifts increases the aggravation. Given that you've had 7 days of rest and still have pain (Enough that you can't function doing certain lifts), I would see a doctor. It may be more than a muscle strain, you may have tendon and/or bone involvement as well, but in any case you need it to be diagnosed.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.