Most people do pushups in a way that only works the front of shoulders and can lead to impingement over time.
Your anterior deltoids (front of the shoulders) are not equipped to resist the weight of your body, so to optimize a pushup, it's best to utilize your chest muscles as well.
Today, I'll talk about a physics concept that will completely change how you feel pushups, reduce the risk of shoulder pain and injury, and improve your strength.
If you love to learn about these principles and want to apply them to teaching a fitness class, join the 200-hour Fitness Teacher Training that I'm hosting, starting in April 2021. The last day to sign up is March 1st.
This physics principle is called the ground reaction force.
This force is extremely important in exercise, yet it is rarely mentioned (and definitely isn't taught in most teacher trainings). It can completely change what muscles are targeted and the amount of stress moving through your joints.
Shoulder pain? Neck pain? Limited mobility?
I believe that if we only treat tightness and pain, the problem will never truly go away.
Instead, look at what stressors are causing the tightness/pain and replace those movements with more mechanically sound ones whenever possible.
Choosing mechanically sound exercises more frequently will result in lasting results, stronger muscles, less inflammation, and a more preserved shoulder joint.
To be honest, studying mechanics is frustrating because I'm realizing that the exercises I have been doing for years aren't necessarily the most ideal. I'm starting to understand why fitness enthusiasts commonly have neck pain, rotator cuff injuries, labral tears, and impingement syndrome. It's because many common exercises aren't as mechanically sound and might not target muscles like we think they do. This leads to over-stressing certain areas and under-stressing others, leading to...
"I keep stretching, foam rolling, massage gun-ing, ALL THE THINGS...and my upper traps are STILL tight. WHY!?"
I've been there. I remember sitting in class during PT school, stretching my upper traps CONSTANTLY. I was regularly applying pressure to a "knot" I felt, was spending money on massages every week, and still never felt permanent relief. In fact, it got worse.
It was a vicious cycle of stretch, slight improvement, back to the same discomfort minutes later—massage, temporary relief, discomfort again the next day. Any relief was always fleeting.
I've learned several things that have finally provided lasting changes in my upper trap/neck pain. Many of these things may be the opposite of what you've learned, but try to keep an open mind! My suggestion is to give them a go for a couple of weeks and see what happens. Because my guess is, you've also tried the stretching and massage and still haven't found relief. So what do you have to lose?...