What are the best strategies to reduce the risk of shoulder/back pain after weight lifting?

It doesn't feel the same as soreness, I feel like maybe it's from either poor exercise performance/form or poor maintenance (stretching, nutrients, foam rolling, etc).

Tried many things but not sure what it is and I have to wait about a week for things to clear up. It feels like somewhat burning tightness in the upper back behind the shoulders that is temporarily relieved by stretching and foam rolling but keeps coming back, especially after some weight lifting that feels like a decent challenging effort with solid form and controlled slow movement - not tolerating excessive strain/shaking or unusual injury-like pain during the workout.

Maybe it's a long-term knotting in the upper back I just haven't melted out well with tennis-ball-to-the-wall hula-dance massage.

  • 1
    Which exercise? Or is it in general?
    – Dark Hippo
    Jul 18, 2019 at 7:31
  • From several upper body weight machines - typically more for pressing heavy weight forward and above exercises. The pain doesn't seem to occur for pulling back and rowing type exercises. I've encountered a little bit of mild shoulder popping near the end of a heavy workout sessions without lifting weights above my head/shoulders - e.g. dumbells straight up and down - parallel movement with the standing body. Jul 18, 2019 at 20:28
  • with* lifting above head and shoulders Jul 19, 2019 at 16:41
  • I think I may have this. I think it's from too many overlapping exercises. I'm sure there's a more technical term... Mine is mostly right between my shoulder blades. Is that where yours is?
    – BBaysinger
    Jul 25, 2019 at 4:22
  • 1
    Start watching videos from athlean-x on youtube. Most people do terrible things to their shoulders in the gym and he points them out. The positions you put your shoulders in, in many exercises may be wrong and damaging your body, but may be considered correct form by many people that don't know any better.
    – jesse_b
    Jul 25, 2019 at 18:39

1 Answer 1


I believe this is more in the realm of a physical therapist, but if nothing else I would advise doing specific strength work for your external rotators if you don't already. This seems to be an area of imbalance for most people, and a weak rotator cuff can definitely cause some shoulder issues.

  • Thanks for the advice, yes I feel this will be necessary to focus on at this point - better safe than seriously injured from negligence of a weak/problem area. Jul 22, 2019 at 16:24

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