Why Does My Chest Hurt When I Do Dips? 14 Tips To Fix Issue
Have you ever felt a sharp pain in your chest while performing dips? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many people experience discomfort or even pain in their chest during this exercise, and it can be a bit unnerving as you don’t really expect to feel any kind of pain in this area.
After all, dips are a popular exercise for building upper body strength and are often included in workout routines. So why does your chest hurt when you do dips?
In this blog, we’ll dive into the possible reasons behind this discomfort and provide some tips on how to alleviate the pain and continue working towards your fitness goals. So let’s get to it!
Why Does My Chest Hurt When I Do Dips?
Chest pain during dips can be a sharp or dull ache that is felt in the chest area. When performing dips, the shoulder joint is put in an internally rotated position which can lead to discomfort or pain if the shoulder lacks adequate internal rotation. Additionally, the sternum can become painful due to a lack of mobility or even a sternum fracture. Stiffness in the thoracic spine can also contribute to chest pain during dips. Other factors that can contribute to chest pain during dips include poor form, a lack of strength in certain areas, and overuse. Costochondritis, an inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the sternum, can also cause chest pain during dips. Doing too much volume, having the incorrect angle when pushing, using more scapula movement than the rotator cuff, weak pecs, and injury or pulled muscle can all contribute to discomfort or pain.
As you can see there are quite a few reasons why your chest might hurt when doing dips, but don’t worry as we will cover all of them in more detail and explain how you can stop the pain and get back to your workout routine.
1. What type of pain is it?
Chest pain during dips can manifest in a variety of ways, and it’s important to differentiate between different types of pain in order to identify the underlying cause. One common type of pain is a sharp, stabbing pain that is felt in the center of the chest. This type of pain may indicate costochondritis, a condition where the cartilage that connects the ribs to the sternum becomes inflamed. Another type of pain is a dull, aching pain that is felt in the chest area. This may indicate a pulled muscle or injury, particularly if the pain is localized to one side of the chest.
In some cases, chest pain during dips may be related to the sternum, particularly if the pain is felt in the middle of the chest. This may be due to a lack of mobility in the sternum or even a sternum fracture. Additionally, chest pain may be related to the shoulder joint, particularly if the pain is felt in the front of the shoulder or the upper chest. This may be due to a lack of internal rotation in the shoulder or weakness in the rotator cuff muscles.
Ultimately, the specific type of chest pain experienced during dips can vary depending on the individual and the underlying cause. It’s important to pay attention to the type and location of the pain in order to identify any potential issues and make necessary modifications to form or exercise routine to alleviate the pain.
2. Lacking internal rotation in the shoulder
You may experience chest pain due to a lack of internal rotation in the shoulder because during the dip exercise, your shoulder joint is put in a position that requires a significant amount of internal rotation. If your shoulder joint lacks the necessary range of motion, it can result in compensatory movements that put unnecessary stress on the surrounding muscles and joints. Specifically, a lack of internal rotation can cause the humerus to move forward in the shoulder socket, which can put excessive strain on the anterior deltoid, pec major, and pec minor muscles.
These muscles play a significant role in the dip exercise, as they are responsible for stabilizing the shoulder joint and controlling the movement of the arms. The pec major is the largest muscle of the chest and is responsible for adduction and internal rotation of the arm, as well as shoulder flexion. The pec minor, located beneath the pec major, is responsible for depressing and protracting the scapula. The anterior deltoid is located on the front of the shoulder and is responsible for shoulder flexion and internal rotation.
When performing dips, these muscles work together to stabilize the shoulder joint and control the movement of the arms. A lack of internal rotation in the shoulder can lead to compensatory movements that put excessive strain on these muscles, leading to pain and discomfort in the chest. To address this issue, it is important to work on improving shoulder mobility through stretching and strengthening exercises that target the rotator cuff and other muscles involved in shoulder internal rotation.
3. Sternum pain
The sternum, or breastbone, is located in the centre of the chest and serves as a point of attachment for several muscles, including the pectoralis major and minor muscles. These muscles play a significant role in the dip exercise, as they are responsible for stabilising the shoulder joint and controlling the movement of the arms.
When the sternum is strained or injured, it can cause pain and discomfort during activities that involve the chest muscles, such as dips. The pain may be felt as a sharp or dull ache in the center of the chest, and may be accompanied by swelling, tenderness, or redness in the affected area.
Several factors can contribute to sternum pain during dips, including overuse, poor form, or an underlying medical condition such as costochondritis, which is inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the sternum.
To address sternum pain during dips, it is important to take steps to reduce inflammation and promote healing in the affected area. This may involve rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers to manage discomfort. Stretching and strengthening exercises can also help to improve flexibility and build strength in the chest muscles, which can reduce the risk of future injuries. It is important to speak with a healthcare professional if chest pain persists or worsens, as this could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.
4. Sternum fracture
A sternum fracture can occur due to a direct blow to the chest, such as during a car accident or fall, or from repetitive stress to the bone over time. Symptoms of a sternum fracture may include pain, swelling, tenderness, and bruising in the chest area. You may also have difficulty breathing, coughing, or sneezing due to the pain.
When performing dips with a sternum fracture, the movement of the arms and chest can cause significant pain and discomfort. The pectoralis muscles, which attach to the sternum, may also be affected, leading to weakness and limited range of motion in the arms and shoulders.
If you suspect a sternum fracture, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Treatment may involve pain management, rest, and immobilization of the affected area to promote healing. Physical therapy may also be recommended to restore range of motion and strength in the chest muscles. It is important to avoid strenuous activity, including dips, until the fracture has fully healed to prevent further injury and promote proper recovery.
5. Stiffness in the thoracic spine
The thoracic spine is the portion of the spine that runs from the base of the neck to the bottom of the rib cage and is responsible for supporting the upper body and protecting the vital organs. When the thoracic spine is stiff or immobile, it can affect the movement of the shoulders and arms, which can lead to compensatory movements and pain in the chest during exercises like dips. The muscles of the chest, including the pectoralis major and minor muscles, work in conjunction with the shoulder joint and the thoracic spine to control arm movements and maintain stability during exercise.
A lack of mobility in the thoracic spine can cause excessive strain on the chest muscles during dips, leading to pain and discomfort. Other symptoms of thoracic spine stiffness may include limited range of motion in the shoulders and upper back, pain or tightness in the neck, and headaches.
To address thoracic spine stiffness during dips, it is important to work on improving mobility in this area. This may involve stretches and exercises to target the muscles and joints of the thoracic spine, such as spinal twists, foam rolling, and mobility drills. Strengthening exercises for the chest muscles can also help to improve stability and reduce the risk of compensatory movements that can lead to pain and injury.
6. Your form
Dips require proper form to avoid undue stress on the shoulders, chest, and triceps muscles. When performed with poor form, dips can place excessive strain on the chest muscles, leading to pain and discomfort. For example, dipping too low can cause the chest muscles to stretch beyond their limits, leading to microtears and inflammation. Additionally, flaring out the elbows during the exercise can place unnecessary stress on the shoulders, causing pain and discomfort.
To prevent chest pain during dips due to poor form, it is important to focus on proper technique. This includes keeping the elbows close to the body, not dipping too low, and maintaining a neutral spine. The pectoralis major and minor muscles are the primary muscles involved in the dip exercise, but the triceps and deltoids also play a role in stabilizing the movement.
Strengthening the supporting muscles and improving overall stability can also help to prevent pain and discomfort during dips. Exercises such as push-ups, bench presses, and shoulder presses can help to strengthen the chest, triceps, and deltoid muscles. Additionally, stretching and foam rolling can help to improve mobility in the shoulders and chest muscles, reducing the risk of injury during dips.
Related: Why Do I Feel Bench Press In My Shoulders?
7. Strengthen areas of weakness
Strengthening areas of weakness can help to reduce the risk of pain and injury during dips. For example, the rotator cuff muscles play a crucial role in stabilizing the shoulder joint during dips. If these muscles are weak or imbalanced, it can lead to compensatory movements and pain in the chest during dips. The rhomboids and mid/lower trapezius muscles, located in the upper back, also play a role in stabilizing the shoulder blades and maintaining proper posture during dips.
To address weakness in these areas, exercises such as band pull-aparts, face pulls, and rows can help to strengthen the upper back and rotator cuff muscles. Additionally, exercises such as push-ups and bench presses can help to strengthen the chest and triceps muscles, improving overall stability and reducing the risk of compensatory movements that can lead to pain and injury.
8. Increase range of motion and flexibility
If you experience chest pain during dips, it could be due to limited range of motion and flexibility in the shoulders and chest muscles. Increasing range of motion and flexibility can help to reduce the risk of pain and injury during dips.
For example, tightness in the chest muscles, specifically the pectoralis major and minor muscles, can limit range of motion in the shoulders and lead to compensatory movements during dips. This can place excessive strain on the chest muscles, leading to pain and discomfort. Limited range of motion in the shoulders can also contribute to poor form during dips, increasing the risk of injury.
To address limited range of motion and flexibility, stretching exercises such as doorway stretches, chest stretches, and shoulder stretches can help to improve mobility in the chest and shoulder muscles. Additionally, foam rolling can help to release tension and improve flexibility in the chest and upper back muscles.
Strengthening exercises such as push-ups, bench presses, and shoulder presses can also help to improve flexibility and mobility in the chest and shoulders, reducing the risk of compensatory movements that can lead to pain and injury during dips.
9. Too much volume
If you are performing too many sets or repetitions of dips, you may be overworking the muscles in your chest and causing pain and discomfort. The muscles involved in dips, specifically the pectoralis major and triceps muscles, can become fatigued with excessive volume, leading to decreased strength and increased risk of injury.
To address excessive volume during dips, it is important to reduce the amount of sets and repetitions performed or to take longer rest periods between sets. Incorporating exercises that target the opposing muscle groups, such as rows and shoulder presses, can also help to balance the workload and reduce the risk of overworking the chest muscles.
It is important to listen to your body and not push beyond your limits, as overworking the chest muscles can lead to pain, injury, and decreased performance. If you experience chest pain during dips, it is important to rest the affected area and reduce volume or seek medical attention if symptoms persist or worsen.
10. Angle of body
Dips can be performed at different angles, which can change the emphasis of the exercise and the muscles involved. Performing dips at a steep angle, with the torso leaning forward, can place more emphasis on the chest muscles and increase the risk of pain or injury.
The muscles involved in dips, specifically the pectoralis major and triceps muscles, can become overworked when performing dips at a steep angle. This can lead to pain and discomfort in the chest, as well as decreased performance.
To address the angle at which dips are performed, it is important to focus on proper form and to start with a less steep angle. This can be accomplished by using assistance, such as a bench or dip machine, or by performing dips with the feet on the ground.
11. Overuse of scapulae
Scapula movement refers to the movement of the shoulder blade, which is important for proper form during dips. However, if the scapula is overused and the rotator cuff is not activated properly, it can lead to pain and discomfort in the chest.
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that stabilize the shoulder joint and provide support during movement. These muscles include the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. When performing dips, it is important to engage the rotator cuff to stabilize the shoulder joint and prevent injury.
If the scapula is overused during dips, it can lead to decreased activation of the rotator cuff muscles and increased stress on the chest muscles. This can lead to pain and discomfort in the chest, as well as decreased performance.
To address the use of more scapula movement than the rotator cuff during dips, it is important to focus on proper form and to engage the rotator cuff muscles. This can be accomplished by keeping the elbows close to the body, not dipping too low, and maintaining a neutral spine.
Additionally, incorporating exercises that specifically target the rotator cuff, such as external rotations and shoulder stabilizing exercises, can help to strengthen these muscles and reduce the risk of injury.
12. Weak pecs
The pectoral muscles, also known as the pecs, are the large muscles that make up the chest and are heavily involved in dips. Weak pecs can lead to compensatory movements, which can cause pain and discomfort in the chest during dips.
To strengthen the pecs and address chest pain during dips, it is important to incorporate exercises that target these muscles. Examples of exercises that target the pecs include bench press, push-ups, chest flyes, and cable crossovers. These exercises can be performed using various weights and resistance levels to progressively increase strength.
In addition to targeted exercises for the pecs, it is important to maintain overall strength and conditioning through a well-rounded fitness program. This may include exercises that target other muscle groups, such as the back, shoulders, and arms, to ensure balanced strength and reduce the risk of compensatory movements.
Related: Why Can’t I Bench Press As Much As Before?
14. Injury or pulled muscle
A pulled muscle, also known as a muscle strain, occurs when the muscle fibres are stretched or torn. Symptoms of a pulled chest muscle may include pain, swelling, and difficulty moving the affected area. Treatment may include rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the affected area, as well as physical therapy to help restore strength and flexibility.
An injury to the chest muscles may also occur due to improper form during dips, such as dipping too low or flaring the elbows out. This can put excess stress on the chest muscles and lead to pain and injury.
If you suspect an injury or pulled muscle, it is important to seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment. Rest and proper rehabilitation will be important to prevent further injury and restore strength and flexibility to the affected area. In some cases, more severe injuries may require surgery or other medical interventions to fully recover.
Why does it hurt when I do dips?
There are several reasons why you might experience pain during dips, including poor form. If you’re not using proper form during dips, you could be putting undue stress on certain muscles or joints, which can lead to pain. For example, dipping too low or flaring your elbows out can strain your shoulders and chest muscles. If your muscles aren’t strong enough to support the movement of dips, you may experience pain. Weakness in the chest, shoulders, triceps, or even the core muscles can cause discomfort during dips. If you have a pre-existing injury or strain in your chest, shoulders, or triceps, dips can exacerbate the pain. Doing too many dips or using too much weight can also lead to pain, especially if your muscles aren’t conditioned to handle the load. Certain conditions like costochondritis, sternum fractures, or shoulder impingement can cause pain during dips.
It’s important to identify the root cause of the pain to properly address it. Working with a qualified fitness professional or physical therapist can help you identify any form issues or muscle imbalances and develop a plan to address them. If you have a pre-existing injury or medical condition, it’s important to work with a healthcare professional to ensure safe exercise modifications or alternative exercises.
Do dips affect chest?
Yes, dips can be an effective exercise for targeting the chest muscles, specifically the pectoralis major and minor. When performed with proper form, dips can help to build strength, size, and definition in the chest muscles. However, it’s important to note that dips also work other muscle groups, including the triceps and shoulders, so it’s important to balance your training program to avoid overtraining any one muscle group. Additionally, dips can also put stress on the joints and connective tissues, so it’s important to start with a lower volume and gradually increase the intensity to avoid injury.
How many dips is impressive?
The number of dips that are considered impressive can vary depending on several factors, such as the individual’s fitness level, weight, and age. However, generally speaking, being able to perform at least 20-30 dips in a row is considered quite impressive for most people. Elite athletes and bodybuilders can perform even more, sometimes reaching 50 or more dips without stopping. It’s important to note that the number of dips isn’t the only measure of impressive fitness, as overall strength, endurance, and technique also play important roles. Ultimately, what is considered impressive varies from person to person and depends on individual fitness goals and aspirations.
Do dips build a big chest?
Dips primarily work the triceps, shoulders, and chest muscles, making them a great exercise for building upper body strength and size. However, while dips can contribute to overall chest development, they are not necessarily the most effective exercise for building a big chest. Other exercises such as bench press, push-ups, and chest flyes are often better for isolating and targeting the chest muscles specifically. To maximize chest development, it’s important to incorporate a variety of exercises and training modalities, including both compound and isolation exercises, progressive overload, and proper nutrition and recovery strategies.
Are dips better than push ups?
Dips and push-ups are both excellent bodyweight exercises that target multiple upper body muscles, including the chest, triceps, and shoulders. Both exercises are effective for building upper body strength and endurance, but they have different benefits and limitations. Dips are generally more challenging than push-ups, as they require more strength and stability to perform. They place a greater emphasis on the triceps and shoulders, making them a great exercise for developing overall upper body strength and size. On the other hand, push-ups are more versatile and can be modified to target different muscle groups, including the chest, triceps, shoulders, and core.
They are also easier to perform and can be done anywhere, making them a great exercise for beginners and those without access to gym equipment.
Overall, both exercises have their place in a well-rounded fitness program, and the choice between them depends on individual goals, fitness level, and training preferences.
Chest pain during dips can be caused by a variety of factors, including chest muscle weakness, overuse of the scapula muscles, and injury or pulled muscle. To address chest pain during dips, it is important to strengthen the pectoral muscles with targeted exercises and maintain overall strength and conditioning with a well-rounded fitness program.
Additionally, engaging the rotator cuff muscles during dips and avoiding improper form can help reduce the risk of pain and injury. Finally, if you suspect an injury or pulled muscle, seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment. With proper care and rehabilitation you can reduce your risk of pain and injury while performing dips.
Does your chest hurt when doing dips and have these tips helped? Let me know in the comments below.
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