Brad is a trainer at a local gym in Sydney. He had been increasing his training load to try and get towards an Olympic lifting competition that was coming up.

Physio to help with shoulder pain from weight lifting

"Highly rate Switch Physio! Been working with Matt in the Concord clinic and he has been great with helping me to identify and correct my movement patterns for when I train.

Also very knowledgeable with explaining thoroughly potential causes for movement patterns but more how to improve them overtime.

Has been great in helping improve my movement with Olympic lifting!"

Brad is a trainer at a local gym in Sydney. He had been increasing his training load to try and get towards an Olympic lifting competition that was coming up. Although he struggled to get to an overhead position with some of his lifts due to feeling right shoulder stiffness. We have physiotherapy clinics in Penshurst, Maroubra and Concord who can help with improving movement patterns for people who are training or weight lifting.


Every individual’s situation is slightly different and we use an evidence-based approach to physiotherapy in Sydney to create a movement program for him that was aimed at;

  • strengthening his mid-back and shoulder

  • improve his form with some of his lifts


The outcome for Brad is that he is now moving much better than before.

Feeling back or shoulder pain when doing an overhead pass

Many people are concerned about the impact that weight lifting has on their shoulders. There are many people who are very careful about the amount of weight they lift, and the number of repetitions they do. While this is a good idea, it’s not always enough to prevent injury. It’s important to do exercises that will strengthen the muscles around the shoulder, which will help to prevent injury. 

For those who are looking to build muscle, you may decide to do the overhead press from a standing position so that you can work most of the larger muscles in your upper body, including the pectorals (chest), deltoids (shoulders), and triceps (arms). Although, when you do this, sometimes you may feel some back and shoulder pain when you are doing an overhead press.

When we speak to people who are suffering pain when doing overhead press exercises we typically want to discover;

Are there any particular movements you are struggling with?

What muscles do you feel working with this movement?

How long have you had this type of neck and shoulder pain problem?

What causes pain from doing an overhead pass?

Commonly in our physiotherapy clinics in Sydney, we see people struggling to overhead press and this can result in compensations being made in your movement patterns and therefore a greater chance of injury occurring. The results of these compensations can range from very minor niggles, such as some general neck and shoulder tightness, can be much more painful or potential more serious overuse injuries such as;

  • rotator cuff tendinopathies or tears

  • cervicogenic headaches

  • lumbar spine and thoracic spine pain or stiffness.

The reasons for these compensations can be varied, but a detailed analysis from a health professional is pivotal to ensuring you don’t cause long-term issues that can lead to shoulder, neck, or back pain. 

How can you try and avoid pain from overhead press excercises

Soft tissue release –
Our physiotherapists in Sydney are very hands-on to ensure that your muscles are working efficiently to allow strength and stability, not only for an overhead press but also for any other injury you may have. Soft tissue release works to decrease muscle tension on overworked muscles. It can help facilitate an improvement in your movement patterns. 


Posture exercises –
Banded pull apart is designed to improve thoracic uprighting to ensure the shoulder complex can move effectively from a stable base

Strength exercises – Wall supported overhead press with a resistance band aims to allow a contraction of the parascapular muscles when overhead to help improve shoulder stability and power 


Mobility exercises –
Lat stretch aims to improve the flexibility through the thoracic spine and lats to improve range of motion for people that struggle to maintain an upright position when pressing

Could protein supplements potentially assist muscle recovery?

Each individual’s situation is of course very unique and depending on your goals and regular dietary intake it may be beneficial to look at protein supplements to aid muscle recovery. 


At Switch Physiotherapy we are not qualified nutritionists but engaging with one could help provide a dietary plan to suit your specific needs that can be combined with our physiotherapy treatment. Using protein supplements in some situations may potentially be beneficial for muscle recovery and muscle resynthesis for someone who is attending the gym on a regular basis (4 or 5 times each week for example)


There is a wide range of protein supplements available including plant-based and vegan-friendly products. Creatine has also been shown to be an effective supplement to improve muscular power, so potentially this can be combined as part of the exercise, dietary intake, and physiotherapy treatment to reach your goals and look after your body.



An experienced physiotherapist located in Sydney and the General Manager of the Switch Health Group in Sydney.

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