Shoulder Pain and Tricep Dips

When it comes to building your tricep dips tend to be the first thing that springs to mind. After all, what other exercise offers such a visible outcome so quickly? And from a triceps-focused point of view, there are few other upper arm moves that can deliver such an effective attack as dips. But as you know by now, every exercise comes with its challenges and risks. If performed incorrectly, dips are no exception. In fact, they’re one of the most commonly cited culprits for tricep pain and soreness among newbies who aren’t yet accustomed to resistance training.

I just got an email from an online training client.

She is testing out my upcoming shoulder pain program.

It is so cool getting emails like this:

Dear Rick,

Thank you for your email. Sorry for not replying to your email earlier. I had a friend in crisis staying at my house, I was helping her all week and she just left on Friday.

Today I have completed the first day of your program ( Sunday 1st May ) and I am very happy with the result.

Both shoulders are getting a bit more movement and I look forward to doing these exercises each day to see how much improvement I can get by next Sunday.

I will be going on my 3 month camping trip around Australia next Tuesday and I will have my computer with me. I might not be able to email you when I am at a remote location. My plan is to report to you at the end of each week, however depends on when I can get a signal to send emails.

Thank you for your help and I look forward to talking to you next week.

All the best,

It is great to get great feedback like this and also to be able to help people around the world. Plus, I love that she is doing the exercises wherever she is, even on her camping trip. Camping in Australia would be fun. I have yet to do that. Soon enough.

One other thing she said in her email as she was having difficulty with some of the stretches for the shoulder and was wondering what she could do. I will do another blog post on what you can do if the typical shoulder stretches cause pain.

Back to today’s post.

This past weekend at the Exercise Rehabilitation of the Lower Body course, a fitness professional asked me about the tricep dip exercise.

She had been giving it to a client, and it had been causing her shoulder pain. She wondered why it would be causing her pain and if she should be doing it.

I cringe when I see someone doing a tricep dip. It is not a great exercise for the shoulder. Let me explain why:

Few Thoughts from Rick on Tricep Dips:

I Used To Do It

This was an exercise that I was taught when I started out doing personal training.

I thought it was good for the triceps, but I always did not feel right doing the exercises as I thought a lot of stress was on my shoulder.

Now that I have trained a few people and better understand the biomechanics of the shoulder, I have put this exercise in the museum of practices. Right beside the ballistic toe, I am touching in leg warmers and spandex.

Rotator Cuff and AC Joint Injuries

Just like leg extensions are not the best exercises for a client with a knee injury, tricep dips are not the best for someone with a rotator cuff or AC joint injury.

Great Way of Sawing Your Rotator Cuff

I know we are all fans of Jillian Michael’s kettlebell technique.

How about Bob:

Can you hear her rotator cuff being sawed?

Way to go, Bob! 100 reps! CrAzY.

Can you imagine an overweight client who needs to lose 50 pounds doing Bob’s challenge?

With every repetition, her scapula anterior tilts and digs into her rotator cuff.

I shake my head.

Why would anyone do 100 reps of a small muscle group?


What Range of Motion Do You Work In?

In the video, I said I work within 25 degrees of shoulder extension. If the client has not changed the position of the scapula due to anterior shoulder tightness, I may extend this to 45 degrees.

Am I Off My Rocker

A few people on my Facebook page agree with what I have to say.

If you are looking for an exercise rehabilitation program, I use with my clients, CLICK HERE.

That is it, have a great day.

Rick Kaselj, MS

P.S. – Here are a few other shoulder pain videos that may also interest and help you:

Strength is Not Always the Answer to a Rotator Cuff Injury

Why Use the Towel with Rotator Cuff Exercises

Exercise Modification for the Lateral Raise

Effective Rotator Cuff Exercises