Fix Your Overhead Press

Before pressing weights over your head, there are definitely some things you need to know…

The ability to comfortably, and without compensation, put your arms straight up over your head is lost for many people. This is because it is a position we rarely find ourselves in during our daily life. If the only time you put your arms overhead is when you have weights in your hand at the gym, this blog is for you. Just like we’ve mentioned before, when it comes to maintaining mobility at our joints -- it is a use it or lose it situation.

If you are unable to raise your arms up over your head without any weight, then you should definitely not be loading yourself up with dumbbells or a barbell in this position.

Here’s what we look for when it comes to whether or not the overhead press exercise should be in your program. Assess yourself by raising your arms up overhead so that your biceps are in-line with your ears. In the picture below, the first photo shows what poor mobility will look like. If shoulder mobility does not allow you to raise your arms, the body will find a way to get there by compensating. Mike’s low back arch (lumbar extension) and rib flair must occur in order for him to get his arms up. If we load him in this position, this will likely put added stress on his low back leading to pain/discomfort. In the second photo, Mike is able to keep a neutral, straight spine with arms elevated. t


The good news is that if you are noticing your lack of mobility in your shoulders and want a safer, more effective press, start with adding in these shoulder mobility exercises to your routine. It’s perfectly fine to take the overhead press out of your routine until you develop the prerequisite movement pattern to allow you to perform it safely.

Stretch Option #1

Here are two simple overhead stretches. The most important thing here is to not allow your low back to arch and ribs to flair up. You want to perform this stretch without compensating.

If you don’t have a foam roll, you can perform it without one by keeping your back on the mat. Try to get your thumb to touch the ground over your head.

Stretch #2