Why Do I Feel Shoulder Press In My Forearms? 13 Tips To Reduce Pain

Why Do I Feel Shoulder Press In My Forearms?

Why Do I Feel Shoulder Press In My Forearms? 13 Tips To Reduce Pain

If you’ve ever tried a shoulder press and felt the burn in your forearms more than anywhere else, then you know it can be a confusing experience. You probably asked yourself: why is my body reacting this way?

What muscle is actually moving during a shoulder press? It’s totally normal – and understandable – to feel some fatigue in your arms after performing any type of exercise, but understanding where that feeling comes from is key to increasing strength and getting better results from your workouts.

In this blog post, we’ll explore why most people feel shoulder press in their forearms and how they can use that knowledge to work smarter rather than harder while achieving optimal results.

Why Do I Feel Shoulder Press In My Forearms?

Our arms are connected to our shoulders by muscle groups that help us move and function. As such, many movements require both the shoulder and arm muscles to work together in order to perform correctly. When we do a shoulder press, tension builds up within the neck or upper body which can be felt most strongly in the forearms. This is because the muscles in our arms are not used to working with such heavy weight and they struggle to keep up, resulting in fatigue. In addition, if your grip is too tight or too wide, the tension will be felt more intensely in the forearms as well. Furthermore, if you have any kind of wrist extension while performing a shoulder press, this can also cause fatigue in the forearms and pain in the wrist. Other causes for feeling shoulder press in the forearms could be due to overuse or imbalance of certain muscles. For example, if one arm is weaker than the other and you don’t use proper form during a shoulder press, it can lead to an incorrect bar path, which then leads to further fatigue of the weaker forearm muscles.

Let’s now look more in-depth at why you are feeling shoulder press more in your forearms and how you can reduce or stop it from happening…

1. Referred pain

The primary cause of feeling shoulder press in the forearms is referred pain from other muscles in the upper body. The most common muscles that are causing this discomfort are the rotator cuff, neck and trapezius (upper back). When these muscle groups get overloaded or overworked, they start to put pressure on your forearm muscles leading to fatigue and pain in your forearms.

Performing a shoulder press requires the body to coordinate and work in tandem, which can be overwhelming. To avoid developing bad habits – such as allowing other muscles to compensate for those that should be doing the work – proper technique is essential for successful execution. Otherwise, issues could arise from having the incorrect form.

To stop this from happening you need to make sure your shoulder press form is correct and that you’re using the proper muscles during the exercise. If you have pain in any of the above-mentioned muscle groups, take a break and stretch out those muscles before starting again.

2. Nerve tension

The second cause of feeling shoulder press in the forearms is nerve tension. This happens when the nerves in your arms become overloaded or overworked during the exercise or if there’s tension in the areas mentioned above. This can lead to increased tightness and tension in your forearms, resulting in pain.

One thing about nerve pain is that you will know about it because it’s a different kind of pain. The pain will feel more like a burning sensation, kind of like pins and needles. If you are feeling pain in your forearms from nerve tension, then I would recommend that you put the barbell down and go see a doctor about the pain and see what they advise. Nerve pain can be very debilitating and extremely painful (I’ve been there myself) so seeking professional help is always a good idea.

The best way to prevent nerve tension from developing in your forearms during shoulder press is to make sure you have proper form and that you warmed up for the exercise. Make sure to take breaks regularly throughout your sets, and switch up exercises if needed. 

3. Tight grip or weak grip

Another cause of feeling shoulder press in the forearms is having a tight grip or a weak grip on the barbell. Having too much tension in your grip will lead to more fatigue and pain in your forearms, as well as an incorrect bar path during the exercise. On the other hand, having a weak grip can also lead to issues with the barbell slipping out of your hands, which can also cause pain in the forearms, as they are having to work harder to maintain control of the load.

Gripping too tight will also fatigue your forearms if you aren’t careful because you will wear out your forearm muscles trying to complete the exercise. To avoid this, use a grip that is comfortable for you and make sure to vary your grip width and keep it within your natural range of motion.

Having a good grip on the barbell is key to successful shoulder presses. Find that balance and you will be able to perform the exercise more effectively.

Why do I feel shoulder press in my forearms?

4. Grip width

Another cause of feeling shoulder press in the forearms can be related to grip width. If you have too wide a grip, it will put more tension on your forearms as they are having to work harder to keep control of the barbell and support your wider stance. The same also applies if you have a grip that’s too narrow, as your wrists won’t be neutral and your muscles won’t be able to function optimally. Additionally, this will make you use more arm strength in order to avoid the bar from moving in the wrong direction and ensure a steady movement.

The best way to find out what grip width is right for you is to experiment and see what feels natural when executing the shoulder press with just the barbell. Find a grip width that allows you to keep your wrists neutral, shoulders back and chest up throughout the lift. Once you have found this range of motion, stick to it for the best results.

5. Wrist extension

If you have any kind of wrist extension when doing this exercise, it could be the reason your feeling shoulder press more in your forearms than anywhere else. This is because the extension puts a lot of stress on your wrists as they are having to work harder and it also stops them from moving freely. Wrist extension is when your wrists are bent backwards and your knuckles point outwards. In this case, the bar pulls your wrists back while holding it which causes strain and tension in the forearms.

Holding the bar too far up your hand can also cause wrist extension because the barbell should be placed in the palm of your hand as opposed to the base of your fingers.

To fix this, you need to make sure that your wrists remain neutral throughout the exercise. This means that you should keep your wrists in line with your forearms and elbows at all times, and focus on keeping your hands and fingers relaxed while gripping the barbell. Doing this will help to reduce any shoulder press pain you may feel in your forearms.

Related: Wrist Pain From Lateral Raises?

6. Forearm conditions

If none of the above mentioned solutions seems to help, then it could mean that you have an underlying condition in your forearms such as carpal tunnel syndrome, pinched nerve in the lower arm area, tennis elbow or golfers elbow. All of these conditions can make shoulder press more painful and difficult to complete.

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome – numbness and tingling in the hands and fingers, as well as pain and weakness in the forearm.
  • Pinched nerve – pressure on some of the nerves that run through your forearm can cause pain.
  • Tennis elbow – occurs when the tendons and muscles around your elbow become inflamed from repetitive motions or overuse.
  • Golfers elbow – occurs when the tendons and muscles on the inside of your elbow become inflamed from repeated usage.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or conditions it’s best to seek medical advice from your doctor and stop doing shoulder presses until the condition has healed. 

7. Too heavy

If you are feeling shoulder press in your forearms it could be because you are using too heavy of a weight. If this is the case, the best solution would be to lower the weight and focus on proper form first. Once you have mastered the correct technique then you can start to increase the weight gradually until you feel comfortable doing shoulder presses.

We have all seen those people at the gym, grunting like there’s no tomorrow trying to ego-lift their way to the top. But this type of behaviour can be dangerous and it often leads to injuries, especially when doing shoulder presses.

Trying to press a weight over your head that’s too heavy has all sorts of alarm bells ringing; it can cause strain on your wrists, back, neck and shoulders which can all lead to pain, discomfort and lengthy time out recovering from injury. So make sure that you only use a weight that’s comfortable for you to lift and don’t be afraid to reduce the amount if needed. 

8. Strengthen muscles

If you have weak forearms for any reason, you’ll want to improve your strength in this area before trying heavy shoulder presses. Weak forearms increase the amount of tension you feel when doing shoulder presses, so it’s important to strengthen them first.

This is normally the case when someone is new to lifting or they have spent a bit of time away from the gym. There are a few exercises that you can do to help strengthen your forearms such as reverse wrist curls, bent-over rows and hammer curls. 

I also like using kettlebells to help improve my grip strength, along with farmers’ walks as they put a real test on your grip. Start with light weights and work up to heavier ones as you get more comfortable with the movements, but always make sure that you keep good form and avoid any jerking motions.

These exercises will help to build up strength in your forearms so that when you do shoulder presses, there’s less strain on them. 

9. Tight muscles and warm up

If you have tight muscles from a previous workout or you haven’t warmed up before exercising, then this could cause shoulder press pain in your forearms. Recovering from an injury can also cause your muscles to be tight and rigid, which will cause problems when asked to do any kind of demanding type of lift.

Doing some light stretching before you start lifting, can help to reduce any tightness and ease the tension when doing shoulder presses. You may also want to do some dynamic warm-up exercises such as arm circles, shoulder rolls and trunk rotations which will all help get your muscles ready for the workout ahead. Make sure you get that blood pumping around your body and always remember to cool down after each session.

These exercises will help you to loosen up your joints and increase mobility so that your arms can move freely when doing shoulder presses, easing off any tension felt in the forearms. 

10. Form 

An obvious but often overlooked reason for feeling pain in your forearms during shoulder presses is incorrect form. If you have your elbows too high or if you grip the barbell wrong, this can cause extra stress on your wrists and arms, leading to tension being felt in the forearms. 

You want to make sure that you keep your chest up and shoulders back when doing shoulder presses and keep the bar close to your head. The grip should be just wide enough so that you can hold onto the bar securely but not too tight as this can cause fatigue in your forearms.

Make sure you keep your core braced and use your leg muscles to help power the weight up, also don’t forget to engage your glute muscles to help with support, this is a crucial factor many overlook. Control the weight as you lower it back down, rather than dropping it and avoid locking out your elbows when lowering the barbell.

Take your time to get the form right, as once you’ve mastered it then all that’s left to do is add weight. By keeping good form, you’ll reduce any strain felt and make sure that you’re squeezing out every ounce of power from each rep. 

Related: Should I Train Shoulders After Chest?

11. Control and bar path

You must maintain full control of the barbell when lifting it above your head, or else you’ll be forcing your upper body to work harder in order to keep the load from toppling over. Your forearms will also be required to take on more responsibility since they are responsible for keeping the weight secure and away from you.

The bar path should be as straight up and down as possible, with no side-to-side motion. Aim to keep the bar close to your head as you press it up and make sure you don’t flare your elbows out too wide.

Good control over the barbell will help minimise the amount of effort needed from your forearms, helping prevent any pain or tension in the area. A smooth and steady motion will also ensure that you can lift greater amounts of weight with better form and efficiency. 

12. Overuse, rest and recovery

If you are pushing yourself too hard, overtraining your arms, or doing too many reps/sets in one session, this could be the main cause of your shoulder press pain. If your muscles are not given enough time to rest and recover after a workout then they will become fatigued and unable to perform at their best when lifting heavy weights.

It is important to give your muscles time to recover and build back up after each workout. Take at least one full day of rest between workouts in order to allow your body sufficient time to recuperate. If possible, incorporate active recovery exercises such as swimming or foam rolling into your routine which can help reduce tension and promote muscle relaxation.

In addition to rest and recovery, you should also make sure you are eating a balanced diet that contains plenty of protein and other essential nutrients which will help your muscles to repair and grow stronger. 

13. Imbalances and Mobility

Not only can an imbalance in muscle strength be a possible culprit for pain felt during shoulder presses, but poor mobility and flexibility could also be to blame. If you have tightness or a restricted range of motion in your chest, shoulders, and arms then this will put extra strain on the muscles as they work harder to move the weight.

Muscle imbalances are quite common in people who are new to weightlifting or those that focus on one body part more than others. It is important to work on your mobility and flexibility in order to prevent any potential pain while lifting and help promote better overall health. As mentioned, stretching before and after a workout can be beneficial, as well as incorporating exercises that target specific muscle groups into our routine. 

Having a well-rounded fitness program that incorporates strength, mobility, and flexibility training can help to reduce the risk of injury and keep our muscles in good condition. With regular focus on these components of fitness, you can be sure that your shoulder press will improve and you won’t feel any pain or tension in the forearms. 


Why do I feel pressure in my forearm?

It is important to understand the cause of forearm pressure in order to effectively manage it. The most common causes of forearm pressure are overuse, muscle strain or injury, poor posture, repetitive motions, and cumulative trauma disorders. Overuse can cause fatigue and tightness in your muscles resulting in an uncomfortable feeling of pressure in your forearms. Muscle strain or injury can cause inflammation and pain in your forearm muscles, resulting in a feeling of pressure. Poor posture can also lead to tightness and discomfort in the forearms. Repetitive motions such as typing or playing an instrument can put a strain on your forearm muscles and increase the risk of forearm pressure. Lastly, cumulative trauma disorders are conditions that develop over time due to repetitive motions, resulting in chronic discomfort and pressure in the forearm. If you are experiencing forearm pressure, it is important to seek medical attention to determine the cause and receive the appropriate treatment. Treatment may include physical therapy, stretching exercises, splints or braces, medication, rest or lifestyle changes.

Why do my forearms hurt when I dumbbell press?

There are a few potential causes of forearm pain that can be associated with dumbbell pressing. One of the most common causes is improper form. When executing the exercise, make sure to keep your wrists straight and your elbows tucked in close to your body. This will help reduce strain on the muscles and prevent overloading of the joint. Another potential cause could be grip strength. If your grip is too weak or if you are using excessively heavy weights, then it could be causing pain in the forearms when holding onto the dumbbells during a press. Lastly, it’s possible that your body is not used to the exercise and needs some time to adjust. To help prevent forearm pain from developing, start with lighter weights, ensure proper form and gradually increase the weight and reps as your body adapts. If you experience any sharp pain or continued discomfort after a few workouts, then it is advised to stop exercising and seek medical advice. 

How do you get rid of forearm tension?

One way to reduce forearm tension is through stretches and exercises. There are several stretches that can help relieve tension in the forearm muscles, such as wrist flexion and extension, palm press, forearm roll, and fist clench. Additionally, strengthening exercises like grip squeezes or wrist curls can also be beneficial for relieving some of the tension in the forearms. It’s important to ensure that you are not overworking your forearm muscles during these exercises, as this can worsen tension and lead to further discomfort. Additionally, it is important to take regular breaks from activities that require intense use of the forearms, such as typing and gaming, in order to allow your arms a break and reduce tension. Finally, it can also help to take some time out of your day to practice mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, as these can help to reduce muscular tension in the forearms. 

When should I be concerned about forearm pain?

If you experience ongoing forearm pain, particularly if it is severe or accompanied by swelling, numbness, or tingling, it may be a sign of an underlying issue. You should seek medical attention to determine the cause and the best treatment plan for your particular situation. Fortunately, many effective techniques can help reduce forearm tension and pain. Stretching is one of the best ways to reduce tension and promote mobility in your forearm muscles. You can also apply ice or heat to your forearms for relief from soreness and muscle spasms. Additionally, over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen may help provide temporary relief from severe discomfort. If your pain persists, your doctor may recommend more specific treatments such as physical therapy, massage therapy, or even surgery. Taking steps to address the underlying cause of your forearm tension can help you find long-term relief and get back on track with all of your activities. 

Why do my arms feel heavy and weak in the morning?

This is a common complaint, but there are several potential causes. Fatigue and overexertion can cause muscle fatigue in the arms, leading to heaviness and weakness. Poor posture while sleeping can also contribute to arm weakness and heaviness in the morning; this is because poor posture restricts circulation and puts undue strain on muscles. Dehydration or poor nutrition can likewise lead to muscle fatigue and weakness in the arms. Additionally, conditions such as polymyalgia rheumatica or fibromyalgia can cause pain and stiffness in the muscles of the arms and shoulders, leading to heaviness or weakness. If you experience arm fatigue or weakness in the morning that does not improve with rest, it’s important to talk with your doctor to determine the underlying cause. They can recommend treatments that may help improve your symptoms. 

Final thoughts…

Forearm pain can be debilitating and interfere with your daily activities. Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce forearm tension and discomfort. Stretching, strengthening exercises, and taking regular breaks from intense activities can help keep the muscles of your arms healthy and relaxed. Additionally, if you experience persistent arm pain or weakness, it is important to seek medical attention to determine the cause and receive appropriate treatment. Taking care of your arms can help you stay active and pain-free. 

Do your forearms hurt more when doing shoulder press and have these tips helped? Let me know in the comments section below.

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Until next time, all the best…

Beginners Upper Body Kettlebell Workout


Founder – Sport CBDs

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