Dips and shoulder pain

29 Nov

I love dips! I’m not talking about the kind you dunk your food in (although their awesome too), I’m talking about tricep dips.

When I first started doing them over 10 years ago, I used to hate them, although now a workout doesn’t feel the same without cranking out a few.  So you’ll understand why I panicked when I got shoulder pain from dips for the first time about three weeks ago and realised I needed to do something to fix this.

I was doing low reps (4 or 5) with heavy weight added to my own bodyweight. I started to get pain right in the middle of my shoulder and thought “sh*t, am I just getting old?”.

I jumped on the Internet to research potential solutions and the first site I came across suggested just giving up dips. What?!?? Then there were about 8 comments all saying “Yup, I just have given up dips and replaced them with…..”. In my humble opinion, you can’t replace dips.

After some more searching and also following advise from a friend who’s a PT I came up with the following:

1. Make sure the bars are no wider than your shoulders (obviously I thought my shoulders were more superhero-esque than they actually are)

2. Keep your elbows close to your body like you’re holding newspapers under your arms

I tried this in my next workout and instantly the shoulder pain had gone, although I did slightly fewer reps as I was relying more on tricep strength. Will this work for everyone, I don’t know, although from what I’ve read, not following the tips above causes you to rely too much on your chest and shoulders and puts excess pressure on your rotator cuff. Now this may not be a problem if you’re just using your bodyweight (it didn’t for me) although it’s worth considering your form to get the most from this exercise.


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