Exercising with a Shoulder Injury

There follow a list of exercises that will be of benefit to a GENERAL shoulder injury. Each links to a full description. These should be completed daily and should not cause pain or discomfort. Please note the exercises are general in nature and you may need specific prescription based on your unique injury.


Prevention of Recurrence:

The Range of Motion Pre- and Post- Exercise Routine is a seven step model with specific movement preparation, movement therapy (individualised fault eradication) and recovery. You can find this resource here.

Range of Motion Movement Therapy identifies faults with common movements, determines the underlying musculo-skeletal issues causing these faults and corrects them. Movement Therapy works to release restricting structures (primarily through PNF) and activate inhibited structures to solve any musculo-skeletal imbalance which causes lack of technique and efficiency.

Specific to the shoulder, therapy for movement (specific to your faulty movement patterns) will involve some or all of the following:

Injury alternatives allow you to maintain the required stimulus of a movement without aggravating the injury. The best alternatives are at the top of the list. Work your way down the list to find the first alternative that doesn't cause aggravation. Movements are listed in alphabetical order.

Air Squat

  • No change

Back Squat

  • Widen grip on the bar.
  • Single arm on the bar.
  • Backwards heavy walking sled drag.

Bench Press

  • Narrow grip on bar with elbows tight.
  • Dumbbell bench press.
  • Weighted push-ups.
  • Push-ups.
  • Floor press.
  • Single arm dumbbell bench press.

Box Jump

  • No change


  • Burpee with tight elbows.
  • Burpee without overhead clap.
  • Burpee without chest to ground.
  • Single arm burpee.


  • Power clean into front squat.
  • Power clean.
  • Double arm kettlebell clean.
  • Russian kettlebell swing.
  • Single arm clean (dumbbell/kettlebell).

Clean (squat) and Jerk

  • See options for clean and options for jerk.


  • No change


  • Single arm deadlift.


  • Bar dip.
  • Deficit push-up.
  • Push-up.
  • Partial depth push-up.
  • Floor press.
  • Ring support hold.
  • Bar support hold.
  • Single arm push-up.
  • Single arm floor press (dumbbell/kettlebell).


  • Jumps.

Front Squat

  • Arms crossed (‘genie’ style).
  • High bar back squat.
  • Backwards heavy walking sled drag.


  • Partial depth.
  • Strict press (barbell).
  • Static handstand hold.
  • Push-up.
  • Single arm strict press (dumbbell/kettlebell).

Kettlebell Swing

  • Russian swing.
  • Single arm Russian swing.


  • Overhead lunge.
  • Front rack lunge.
  • Front rack lunge with arms crossed (‘genie’ style).
  • Back rack lunge.
  • Lunge weighted with dumbbells/kettlebells (Farmer’s carry style).
  • Unweighted lunges.


  • Bar muscle-up.
  • Muscle-up transition onto high box.
  • Waist to ring pull-ups.
  • Chest to ring pull-ups.
  • Kneeling muscle-up transitions.
  • Single arm kneeling muscle-up transitions.

Overhead Squat

  • Front squat.
  • Arms crossed (‘genie’ style) front squat.
  • High bar back squat.
  • Backwards heavy walking sled drag.


  • No change.

Power Clean

  • Double arm kettlebell clean.
  • Single arm kettlebell clean.
  • High box jump.

Power Clean and Jerk

  • See options for power clean and options for shoulder to overhead.

Power Snatch

  • Double arm kettlebell snatch.
  • Single arm dumbbell snatch.
  • High box jump.


  • Strict pull-up.
  • Ring pull-up.
  • Pull-up with neutral grip.
  • Pull-up with palms facing towards body.
  • Ring row.
  • Isometric pull-up hold (shin over bar).
  • Isometric ring row hold (ribs at rings).
  • Single arm ring row.


  • Narrow push-ups.
  • Partial depth push-ups.
  • Floor press.
  • Static push-up hold.

Ring Row

  • Single arm ring row.

Rope Climb

  • Rope climb without leaving ground, from flat on back to standing. Use leg assistance as needed.
  • See pull-up alternatives.


  • Single arm rowing.
  • Russian kettlebell swing.
  • Single arm Russian kettlebell swing.


  • No change

Shoulder to Overhead

  • Double dumbbell/kettlebell shoulder to overhead with neutral grip (palms inwards).
  • Push-up.
  • Single arm dumbbell/kettlebell shoulder to overhead.


  • No change


  • Power snatch into overhead squat.
  • Power snatch.
  • Double arm kettlebell snatch.
  • American kettlebell swing.
  • Russian kettlebell swing.
  • Single arm snatch (dumbbell/kettlebell).


  • Kickboard work.

Turkish Get-up

  • Single arm only.


  • Double dumbbell/kettlebell thruster with neutral grip (palms inwards).
  • Single arm dumbbell/kettlebell thruster.

Toes to Bar

  • Toes through rings.
  • Strict toes to bar.
  • V sit-ups.
  • Sit-ups.

Wall Ball

  • Single arm wall ball.
  • Double dumbbell/kettlebell thruster with neutral grip (palms inwards).
  • Single arm dumbbell/kettlebell thruster.
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Dan Williams's picture

Dan Williams

Dan Williams is the Founder and Director of Range of Motion. He is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Exercise Scientist with a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Exercise Rehabilitation Science. Dan is a CrossFit Coach (at CF Games Level) and four time CrossFit Regionals Athlete.