Shoulder Exercises to Avoid

By James Bolger
The free weight press puts too much strain on the shoulders.
The free weight press puts too much strain on the shoulders.

The success of your golf game may literally fall on your shoulders. A study of golf swings done at the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts-Boston found that shoulders bear much of the responsibility for a smooth and powerful swing. Unfortunately, some of the exercises that promise to strengthen shoulder muscles may actually increase your risk for soreness or tears.


This common exercise machine involves pulling weight behind your head and neck. It puts pressure on the spine and forces the shoulders out of their normal rotation. For a safer alternative, spread your hips and shoulders, and pull the weight down in front of your head.

Free Weight Press

This exercise requires lifting free weights above and behind the head. It stresses the shoulder and can cause spinal problems. To reduce the risk, keep the weights in front of your head during the entire press.

Dumbbell Raises

Raising a dumbbell with your arms straight places too much pressure on your shoulder, especially the rotator cuff. To reduce the strain, lift dumbbells with your arms bent to a comfortable angle, and do not lift the weights above the shoulder.


Discuss your exercise program with your doctor, chiropractor or other health care provider, especially if you have already had a shoulder injury.

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