Shoulder Pain and the Deadlift

Shoulder Pain and the Deadlift

I got a question from a fix my shoulder pain client and he was asking about the deadlift and shoulder pain.

Here is his exact question:

Is there something that I need to remember when performing the deadlift if I am recovering from a shoulder injury?

Yes, there is. I go through it in this video:

==> Shoulder Pain and the Deadlift

Let me summarize things that I went through in the video.

Keys to Remember for the Deadlift and Shoulder Pain

And yes, there are a couple of things that you need to remember or add to your deadlift technique or cueing scheme.

What it involves is:

  • Make sure your thoracic spine is in a good position
  • activating your mid traps
  • activating your lats
  • activating your rhomboids

Doing those four things will create good stability and protection for the shoulder so that you can do a shoulder-safe deadlift.

Common Mistakes in the Deadlift that can Lead to Shoulder Pain

If I am flexed in the thoracic spine, the arms end up hanging and there’s a greater risk of that shoulder being pulled out of its ideal position or centration. I want to make sure that there is an ideal alignment or position of the shoulder to protect it from re-injury. The 4 things that I highlighted will help with that.

Four Things to Remember

  1. If I flatten out the thoracic spine more (activate the thoracic extensor muscles), this will help put the shoulder in a better position.
  2. Then if I end up activating the mid traps, this will put better tension around the shoulder blade.
  3. Then if I bring the rhomboid into things it will retract the scapula and move the shoulder joint back.
  4. Lastly, if I bring the lats into it, this will build more tension around the shoulder joint.

Doing these four things will lead to a more stable and more protected position when performing the deadlift.

New Technique and a Decrease in Weight

Now, once again, with nearly all exercises when you start playing around with your technique and cueing, it ends up affecting the load that you can lift for a short period.

But after you integrate the new technique into your movement, your muscles figure out how to do it, your body figures out the movement, and the weight will catch up.


So there you go, those are the four things that you can do to protect your shoulder if you are recovering from a shoulder injury or shoulder pain when you are doing the deadlift.

Recommended Resource

Now if you are looking for a fantastic resource when it comes to the deadlift, I recommend Deadlift Dynamite. It is written by Pavel Tsatsouline (The person who brought the kettlebell to North America) and Andy Bolton (The first person to deadlift 1000 lbs.) It is an amazing resource.

Take care and bye, bye.

Rick Kaselj, MS

Shoulder Pain Solved