Shoulder Joint and AC Joint Pain – Exercise Tips for Personal Trainers

Pain originating from the AC joint (the joint at the end of the collarbone – on top of the shoulder) is usually well localized and the client will often place one finger directly over the AC joint when asked to indicate the most painful area.

There is usually discomfort with humerus and scapula movement, particularly movements where the arm is brought across the body into a horizontally flexed position. Uncomfortable exercises in the gym may include bench press ( particularly wide grip bench as you have found already), dips and push-ups. The person often has difficulty sleeping on the effected side.

 Some suggestion to reduce stress on the AC joint include:

1)      Keep the elbows closer to the side with a shoulder width hand position during push-up and bench press.

2)      If bench pressing or doing pushups – decrease the depth of the repetitions to keep the elbows above the horizontal.

3)      Perform pulldowns with a closer or even underhand grip.

4)      Reduce the amount of overhead exercise in the program.

5)      Avoid sleeping on the effected side until the pain improves.

You may also find the inflammation can be reduced with the use of ice and anti-inflammatory creams – however reducing the aggravating activities is the best and fastest option to help this problem.

AC joint issues can take considerable time to get right and many require a corticosteroid injection to assist in the reduction of the inflammation process. Make sure you get your client to have a full assessment from your local Physiotherapist or sports physician – as they will be able to work closely with you in the recovery of this injury.

You can find out more about AC joint issues and other shoulder related problems in my shoulder video – you can see a preview at:

You can get full acces to the full presentation and more than 50 hours of other exercise rehabilitation and injury prevention videos at

Paul Wright

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