why does my wrist hurt during shoulder press

Why Does My Wrist Hurt During Shoulder Press?

Wrist pain can be quite debilitating for those who enjoy lifting weights. Especially for exercises such as the shoulder press, bench press, and push-ups. These are some of the best fundamental exercises to build an impressive upper-body. So do not let your wrist pain prevent you from performing these exercises in the gym. Wrist pain is one of the most common injuries weightlifters experience. People often continue to lift despite their wrist pain, but the pain only gets worse.

The wrist joint is SUPER IMPORTANT, imagine how much we use our wrists to perform daily tasks and activities. Especially during exercises like the shoulder press. The wrists are taking the majority of the load. It is important to maintain strong and healthy wrists while lifting. Strong wrists will help maintain an injury-free lifting career. I am going to discuss reasons why your wrist hurts during shoulder press, and ways to prevent wrist pain while shoulder pressing.

Wrist Wraps can often help relieve wrist pain during shoulder press: Read my article on wrist wraps here.

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The Main Causes Of Wrist Pain During Shoulder Press

  1. Wrist tendinitis
  2. Wrist impingement
  3. Muscle/tendon strain
  4. Ligament sprain
  5. Repetitive stress causing irritation

why does my wrist hurt during shoulder press

The most common cause of your wrist hurting from shoulder pressing is due to poor wrist positioning. People often perform heavy shoulder press without considering their wrist position. This can be dangerous for the wrist joint. It is important to maintain a strong neutral wrist position while performing the shoulder press.

The wrist is not designed to handle tons of weight, especially without proper positioning. Shoulder pressing without proper wrist position can put a lot of stress on the wrist joint, tendons, and ligaments. The majority of wrist injuries that occur while weightlifting can often be avoided with proper wrist positioning.

Use This Quick Guide to Determine What May Be Causing Your Wrist Pain:

  • Wrist tendinitis and muscle strains would hurt a lot during any exercises that places weight through the wrist. The pain could be described as sharp “twinges” of pain. Tendinitis and muscle strains would hurt directly over the tendon/muscle.
  • Wrist impingement would be described more as an “achy” pain. The wrist may feel restricted or locked with this condition. Wrist impingement would feel like your wrist is getting “stuck” while shoulder pressing.
  • Ligamentous sprain would be painful with any weight bearing exercises through the wrist. Ligamentous sprain is quite rare, but can occur with a traumatic event to the wrist joint.
  • Inflammation from repetitive stress is the most common cause of wrist pain while shoulder pressing. Wrist pain can linger on and on if you do not shoulder press with proper wrist positioning.

How Do I Prevent My Wrist From Hurting During Shoulder Press?

1. Wrist Position

why does my wrist hurt during shoulder press

It is crucial to maintain proper wrist position during the shoulder press. I recommend keeping the wrist neutral during movements like the shoulder press or bench press. People often perform these exercises with their wrist bent backwards. This can be dangerous for the wrist joint. Bending your wrist back during the shoulder press puts excess strain on the wrist joint, muscles, and tendons.

2. Warming Up

It is important to warm-up the wrists prior to shoulder pressing. People often go in the gym and immediately start lifting heavy weights. This is a recipe for injury. I recommend warming up the wrists before performing heavy shoulder press or bench press.

Simply warm-up the wrists by moving the wrists in big circular motions for 1-2 minutes. This will help lubricate the wrist joint by bring blood/fluid to the surrounding area. Bones glide and move better when the area is lubricated.

3. Stretching

Stretching the wrists will help prepare loosen up your muscles prior to shoulder pressing. Simply stretch your wrists by slightly pulling your opposite wrist into flexion/extension. Hold each position for 30 seconds and repeat 3-4x. Perform these stretches for both wrists. This will help stretch the muscles/tendons that cross the wrist joint, and maintain proper motion through the movement.

4. Wrist Braces

If you believe that you have one of the conditions listed above such as wrist tendonitis, wrist impingement, or a repetitive strain injury then you need to let your wrists heal. This can be difficult when you continue to lift weights. I recommend wearing wrist support while lifting until the pain goes away.

why does my wrist hurt during shoulder press

I recommend wearing a wrist brace while performing any movements that aggravate your wrist, especially shoulder press or bench press. Most people find the a wrist brace helps support their wrist while they lift weights. A wrist brace will help your wrist heal and the inflammation to go down.

5. Wrist Wraps

Another option is weightlifting wrist wraps. Wrist wraps are super popular for those who perform exercises such as shoulder press, bench press, or handstands. Wrist wraps can help support the wrists in a neutral position. They provide great compression while performing exercises such as overhead shoulder press.

Key Takeaways

I recommend taking your wrist pain seriously, Do NOT ignore it. Your body is letting your know that something isn’t feeling right, and you should address this pain. Often people ignore wrist pain, and continue shoulder pressing/bench pressing. This only makes their wrist pain worse and worse. You may need to take a few days-weeks off from heavy pressing movements that aggravate your wrists. This will allow your wrists to rest and heal. It is important to take these days to rest to reduce the inflammation in the wrist.

Purchase a wrist brace or wrist wraps to wear while weight lifting. These can help protect the wrists and provide support while pressing. I personally, will wear wrist wraps when I am going to be performing any heavy shoulder press, bench press, or handstands. It helps support my wrists, and I have not had any wrist pain since adding them to my routine.

Last but not least, remember to check your wrist positioning while lifting! This is crucial, and can help prevent injury to the wrist. Many people experience wrist pain while shoulder pressing due to this reason. The wrist can tolerate more workload in a neutral position. So evaluate your wrist position before beginning next workout. I recommend shoulder pressing with dumbbells, because they are much easier to maintain proper wrist positioning with. The barbell often forces your hands in front of your body, and usually results in excess bend in the wrists.

why does my wrist hurt during shoulder press


  1. Was having some minor wrist pain and didnt even realize it was the grip. Changed it up and immediately felt better and lifted much easier, thanks so much for this!

  2. Author

    Hey Kreb,
    Glad it helped! It is amazing just how much better you can feel after changing wrist positioning and grip.

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