Why Do I Feel Lat Pulldowns In My Shoulders? 14 Crucial Factors To Consider

L J Kudos
why do i feel lat pulldowns in my shoulders

Why Do I Feel Lat Pulldowns In My Shoulders? 14 Crucial Factors To Consider

Have you ever done a lat pulldown and felt the burn in your shoulders? If so, you’re not alone.

It leaves you wondering “why do I feel lat pulldowns in my shoulders”.

It can be frustrating because you think you’re doing the exercise correctly, but your shoulders just can’t seem to handle the weight.

There are a few potential reasons, as a lot of people feel it in their shoulders, but they may not know why.

In this blog post, we’re going to take a closer look at why the lat pulldown can cause shoulder pain and what you can do about it. 

Why do I feel lat pulldowns in my shoulders?

There are a few potential reasons why you may feel lat pulldowns in your shoulders. First, your grip may be too narrow or too wide, which puts extra stress on the shoulder joint. Second, you may be using too much weight, which can also lead to shoulder discomfort. Third, you might be pulling the bar at an incorrect angle, leaning back or you might be pulling the bar down too far past your chest, which is going to put a lot of strain on your shoulders. Fourth, make sure you are sat firmly up against the padded supports, all the way to your hips, with a slight curve in your lower back and that you keep your shoulders down and back throughout the exercise. Finally, you may not be engaging your lats properly, which can cause the weight to shift and put extra strain on your shoulders. To avoid these issues, make sure to use a comfortable grip width, use a lighter weight if necessary, and focus on keeping your lats engaged throughout the exercise.

What muscles does the lat pulldown use?

The lat pulldown is a great exercise for targeting the lats (Latissimus dorsi), as well as the biceps, traps (Trapezius), and rear delts (Deltoids).

To properly engage the lats, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. First, you want to keep your shoulders down and back throughout the exercise. Second, you want to focus on pulling the elbows straight down towards the ground, rather than just pulling the weight down.

This will help to ensure that you’re using the lats properly.

Is this a new exercise for you?

If you’re new to the lat pulldown, it’s important to start with a lighter weight. This will help you get used to the exercise and ensure that you’re using the proper form.

Anyone new to weightlifting or strength training will inevitably feel some discomfort in their muscles and joints when starting out. This is normal and to be expected.

However, if the pain is severe, or if you feel any popping or cracking, it’s important to stop the exercise and seek medical attention.

Allow yourself some time to adjust to the new exercise, and focus on using proper form. As you get stronger and more comfortable with the exercise, you can slowly increase the weight, but remember it’s not a race and don’t force things.

As you become more comfortable with the lat pulldown, you can slowly increase the weight. Just be sure to listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard.

It’s also a good idea to focus on higher reps when you’re first starting out. This will help to build up your endurance and prepare your muscles for heavier weights.

Are you using proper form?

As we mentioned, one of the potential reasons why you may feel lat pulldowns in your shoulders is because you’re not using proper form.

There are a few mechanics to keep in mind when performing the lat pulldown. First, you want to sit up tall and maintain a slight curve in your lower back. Second, you want to keep your shoulders down and back throughout the exercise.

Third, focus on pulling the elbows straight down towards the ground, rather than just pulling the weight down. This will help to ensure that you’re engaging the lats properly.

If you’re not engaging the lats properly, the weight can shift and put extra strain on your shoulders.

And finally, make sure to use a comfortable grip width. A grip that’s too narrow or too wide can put extra stress on the shoulder joint and lead to discomfort.

Lets now look at some of the main causes of shoulder pain during the lat pulldown exercise:

Too much weight 

The biggest cause of issues in the gym is people trying to lift too much weight. This puts unnecessary strain on the muscles and joints and can lead to injury.

If you’re new to the lat pulldown, start with a lighter weight and focus on proper form. As you get stronger, you can slowly increase the weight, but there’s no need to go heavy from the start.

We naturally always want to lift the heaviest weight possible, but this isn’t always the smartest or safest option. Remember, lifting weights is a long-term game and you want to be able to train consistently for years to come.

You want to make sure you can complete the desired number of reps with good form before trying to increase the weight.

So focus on using a weight that you can handle with proper form, and don’t be afraid to use a lighter weight if necessary.

why do i feel lat pulldowns in my shoulders

Angle of pull 

The angle at which you pull the bar down is also very important, as quite a lot of people get this wrong right off the bat.

When you pull on the bar, the cable wants to be pulled straight down, without any deviation to the left or right.

This means that your elbows should be in line with your shoulders, and you should be pulling the bar down towards your thighs, leading the movement with your elbows and not your hands if that makes sense. 

This will encourage the best scapula and lat activation, as well as keep the focus of the movement on those muscles, rather than your biceps.

If your elbows start to flare out to the side, or if you’re pulling the bar down towards your chest, you’re not using proper form.

Some of the biggest culprits of bad form at this exercise are leaning backpulling the bar too far down and pulling the bar too far away from our body.

Let’s look at these three points in detail…

Leaning back

Another common cause of shoulder pain during the lat pulldown is pulling and leaning back.

You may have seen it a lot in the gym, where people lean back as they pull the bar down and pretty much end up doing the exercise as if they were on a rowing machine.

This is normally a symptom of trying to lift too much weight and your body is doing all it can to get the job done.

If you are leaning back when doing the lat pulldown, the bar will be pulled at an incorrect angle and places more stress on the shoulder muscles.

If you’re lowering the bar at an angle, you’re battling against gravity and the weight itself, so your shoulders and forearms will be involved more.

Furthermore, if this isn’t corrected promptly, it might feel unpleasant and induce a shoulder strain.

To fix this issue, sit up tall and engage your core. This will stop you from leaning back and ensure the bar is pulled down in a straight line.

Related: Why Do I Feel Lat Pulldowns In My Forearms? All The Answers Here

Pulling too far down

When you pull the bar down, it should be pulled to about chin level or lower.

Any lower than this and you’re placing extra strain on your shoulders as you’re effectively fighting against gravity to get the bar back up.

If you find yourself pulling the bar down too low, it means you aren’t properly activating your scapula and lats.

Due to your body mechanics, you won’t be able to bring the bar much lower than your collarbone if you are correctly activating your lats and scapula before you start to place extra strain on your shoulders…so if you’re going lower than this then something isn’t quite right.

When you do this correctly, you should feel a good stretch in your lats at the bottom of the movement, but if you’re going too low, you’re more likely to feel it in your chest, arms and shoulders.

Pulling too far from the body

This is related to the previous point, but rather than pulling the bar down too low, some people pull the bar too high, away from their bodies.

This is usually down to poor form, incorrect engagement of the lats and sitting too far away from the padded cushions.

When you pull the bar too far away from your body, you’re no longer effectively working your lats and instead, placing more strain on your arms and shoulders.

When you pull the bar down too far from your body, you in effect end up doing a tricep curl at the bottom of the movement.

To fix this issue, make sure you’re sitting close enough to the padded supports, and focus on keeping your lats engaged as you pull the bar down.

This will ensure that you’re using the correct form and effectively working your lats, rather than your arms and shoulders.

You are not sat up to padded supports

This one is more common with people who are new to the lat pulldown. When you’re sitting down, your hips should be underneath the padded supports.

If you’re not sat up against the pads, you won’t be able to effectively engage your lats, or pull at the correct angle, which means you won’t be able to correctly perform the exercise.

This will also place more strain on your arms and shoulders as they’ll be doing more work to try and keep the bar down.

Also, make sure it feels comfortable sitting right up against the supports, if it’s too loose then you run the risk of being pulled out of your seat when lifting the weight, too tight and it might feel uncomfortable on your hips and you may not be able to get in as far as required.

To fix this issue, make sure you’re sitting up against the supports and that it feels comfortable before starting your set.

why do i feel lat pulldowns in my shoulders

Grip width 

The grip you use on the lat pulldown can have an impact on the muscles worked and how comfortable the exercise feels.

A narrow grip will focus more on the biceps and a wide grip will focus more on the lats.

The best grip width for lat pulldowns will be somewhere in the middle, as this will allow you to effectively work both the biceps and lats. Everyone is different, so finding a grip that suits you is crucial for progress.

As different people have different proportions and ranges of motion, it’s important to find a grip that works best for you.

If you find that your grip is too narrow or too wide, it can lead to discomfort in the shoulders as the weight is pulling at an awkward angle.

Also, consider changing the grip position from overhand (palms facing away) to underhand (palms facing towards you), as this can also help to target the muscles differently.

Related: Does Lat Pulldown Work Your Triceps? (Answers, Form Issues & More Here)

Take thumbs away from the bar

This is a small but important point. When you’re holding the bar, make sure that your thumbs are not wrapped around the bar.

If your thumbs are wrapped around the bar, it can place extra strain on the wrists and elbows, which can lead to discomfort.

Instead, place your thumbs behind the bar so that they’re not wrapped around it. This will help to take some of the strain off the wrists and elbows.

So you are holding the bar with an old-school monkey grip. Give it a go on your next set and see how it feels as your hands are only holding the bar, while your elbows pull the weight.

Scapula movement 

When you’re performing lat pulldowns, it’s important to focus on moving the scapula (shoulder blades) down and back, rather than just down.

If you focus on just moving the scapula down, it can place extra strain on the shoulders and neck as the weight is pulling at an awkward angle.

Instead, focus on moving the scapula down and back as you pull the bar down. This will help to keep the shoulders and neck in a better position and will also help to target the muscles more effectively.

You can also try squeezing the shoulder blades together at the bottom of the movement to further engage the muscles. 

Using the mind-muscle connection is also a big help here due to the fact that some people have a hard time feeling their lats when performing lat pulldowns.

So, focus on contracting the lats as you perform the exercise and really try to feel the muscles working. This will help to ensure that you’re effectively targeting the muscles and will also help to prevent injury.

Shoulder impingement

One of the potential issues with lat pulldowns is shoulder impingement, which is when the shoulder joint is not able to move properly.

This can be caused by a number of things, including poor posture, tight muscles, or an injury.

If you suffer from shoulder impingement, it’s important to seek medical advice as it can be a serious issue.

Performing lat pulldowns with shoulder impingement can further aggravate the condition and may lead to further injury.

Always make sure you warm up properly before exercise and listen to your body if you start to experience any pain or discomfort.

Variations

If you find that you’re still struggling with this exercise, there are a few variations that you can try.

These variations will help you to focus on the correct muscles and may be more comfortable for your shoulders.

One-arm lat pulldown – The one-arm lat pulldown is a great variation for those who are struggling with shoulder pain.

This exercise allows you to focus on one side at a time, which can help to correct any imbalances. It also allows you to use a lighter weight, as you’re only working one side at a time.

To perform the one-arm lat pulldown, start by attaching a single handle to the lat pulldown machine. Sit down and grab the handle with your right hand, and place your left hand on your thigh for support.

Engage your lat, and pull the handle down to your right side, leading with your elbow. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

Seated row – If you’re experiencing shoulder pain, try doing seated rows.

This exercise allows you to focus on the back muscles, rather than the shoulders, which can be helpful if you’re struggling with shoulder impingement.

To perform the seated row, sit down with your feet placed shoulder-width apart and your knees bent. Grab the handles of the machine with an overhand grip and lean back slightly.

Engage your back muscles and pull the handles back towards your body, leading with the elbows. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

why do i feel lat pulldowns in my shoulders

Lat pulldown to front – The lat pulldown to the front is a great way to focus on the lats, rather than the shoulders.

This exercise can be performed with a cable machine or resistance bands.

To perform the lat pulldown to front, start by attaching a single handle to the lat pulldown machine. Sit down and grab the handle with an overhand grip, and place your feet shoulder-width apart.

Engage your lats and pull the handle down in front of your body, leading with the elbows. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

Final thoughts…

I hope this article has helped you to understand the potential causes of shoulder discomfort when doing lat pulldowns. If you experience any pain or discomfort, please stop doing the exercise and consult a medical professional.

Remember to always use a weight that is comfortable for you and to engage you’re lats properly by pulling the bar down towards your chest, not past it, while leading the movement with your elbows.

Let me know in the comments below if you have felt any discomfort when doing lat pulldowns and whether our tips have helped.

If you enjoy sport and use CBD to help with your recovery in between gruelling workouts, then you are in the right place. Here at Sport CBDs, we train hard and recover the best way possible…

We have regular workouts (check out the YouTube channel), CBD news and CBD products to help you gain that edge! 

If you wanted to check out the reputable CBD we have on offer here at the site, then please head to the Sport CBDs Store (CLICK HERE). We also do fitness clothing and yoga accessories too. 

Until next time, all the best…

Beginners Upper Body Kettlebell Workout

Lee

Founder – Sport CBDs

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