Why Do I Feel Bent Over Rows In My Shoulders With In Details Explanation?

Bent over rows, a popular exercise for building back strength, can sometimes lead to discomfort or pain in the shoulders. Understanding the reasons behind this sensation is crucial for maintaining a safe and effective workout routine. Let’s explore the factors that contribute to shoulder pain during bent over rows and discover strategies to prevent such discomfort.

Why Do I Feel Bent Over Rows In My Shoulders

Overview of Bent Over Rows

Bent over rows are a compound exercise primarily targeting the muscles of the upper back, including the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius. By bending at the waist and pulling a weighted barbell or dumbbells toward the chest, you engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, promoting strength and stability in the upper body.

Shoulder Anatomy

To comprehend why bent over rows can affect the shoulders, it’s essential to familiarize ourselves with the complex anatomy of this joint. The shoulder comprises several components, including bones such as the humerus, scapula, and clavicle, as well as muscles, tendons, and ligaments that provide stability and enable various movements.

During bent over rows, the shoulder joint undergoes a dynamic range of motion. The scapulae retract and depress, while the humerus rotates and extends, all in coordination with the pulling motion of the exercise.

Causes of Shoulder Pain during Bent Over Rows

  1. Overuse and Repetitive Motions:
    Performing bent over rows too frequently or without adequate rest can strain the shoulder muscles and tendons. Overuse can lead to inflammation, pain, and decreased performance.
  2. Incorrect Form and Technique:
    Improper execution of bent over rows, such as rounding the back, pulling with the arms instead of the back, or using excessive momentum, places undue stress on the shoulders. Poor form can lead to muscle imbalances and increase the risk of injury.
  3. Muscle Imbalances and Weaknesses:
    Underdeveloped muscles, particularly those in the posterior shoulder and upper back, can create imbalances, placing excessive strain on the shoulder joint during bent over rows.
  4. Pre-existing Shoulder Injuries or Conditions:
    Individuals with a history of shoulder injuries or underlying conditions like rotator cuff tears, labrum tears, or impingement syndrome may experience heightened sensitivity or pain during exercises that stress the shoulder joint, including bent over rows.

Common Shoulder Injuries Related to Bent Over Rows

  1. Rotator Cuff Strains or Tears:
    The rotator cuff, a group of tendons surrounding the shoulder joint, can become strained or torn due to excessive force or repetitive motions involved in bent over rows. This can result in pain, weakness, and limited range of motion.
  2. Labrum Tears:
    The labrum is a cartilage ring that stabilizes the shoulder joint. Intense or incorrect rowing motions can lead to labrum tears, causing discomfort, clicking sensations, and reduced shoulder stability.
  3. Shoulder Impingement Syndrome:
    Impingement occurs when the rotator cuff tendons become compressed between the humerus and the acromion, a bony process on the scapula. The repetitive nature of bent over rows can exacerbate impingement symptoms, causing pain and inflammation.
  4. Shoulder Instability or Dislocation:
    Individuals with unstable shoulder joints are more susceptible to dislocations or subluxations during exercises that involve intense pulling or pushing motions, such as bent over rows. These conditions can cause acute pain and require medical attention.
  5. Bicep Tendonitis:
    The bicep tendon, which attaches the bicep muscle to the shoulder, can become inflamed due to repetitive overhead movements. Bent over rows, when performed incorrectly or excessively, may contribute to the development of bicep tendonitis, leading to pain and weakness.

Signs and Symptoms of Shoulder Pain

  1. Dull or Sharp Pain during or after Exercise:
    Feeling discomfort in the shoulders during or following bent over rows, characterized by dull aches or sharp pain, can be an indication of strain, inflammation, or injury.
  2. Restricted Range of Motion:
    Shoulder pain may manifest as difficulty in moving the joint fully. Limited range of motion during the exercise or daily activities can suggest underlying issues.
  3. Weakness or Instability in the Shoulder:
    Experiencing weakness or instability in the shoulder joint, which may compromise performance or affect other exercises, can be a result of muscle imbalances or injuries.
  4. Swelling or Inflammation:
    Inflammation is often accompanied by swelling, warmth, and tenderness. These symptoms may occur in response to overuse or acute injury during bent over rows.

Preventing Shoulder Pain in Bent Over Rows

To minimize the risk of shoulder pain or injury during bent over rows, it is crucial to adopt preventive measures and establish a safe and effective workout routine. Consider the following strategies:

  1. Proper Warm-up and Stretching Routines:
    Before engaging in any exercise, including bent over rows, ensure you warm up adequately to increase blood flow to the muscles and prepare them for the upcoming activity. Perform dynamic stretches targeting the shoulders and upper back to improve flexibility and mobility.
  2. Correct Form and Technique:
    Focus on maintaining proper form throughout the exercise. Keep the back straight, engage the core, and pull with the muscles of the back rather than relying solely on arm strength. Seek guidance from a qualified fitness professional if unsure about the correct technique.
  3. Gradual Progression and Weight Increases:
    Avoid excessive weight increases or sudden jumps in intensity. Gradually progress the resistance over time to allow your muscles and connective tissues to adapt and strengthen progressively.
  4. Strengthening Exercises for the Shoulder Muscles:
    Include exercises that specifically target the shoulder muscles in your workout routine. Strengthening the rotator cuff, posterior shoulder muscles, and upper back can enhance stability and reduce the risk of injury during bent over rows.
  5. Rest and Recovery Strategies:
    Provide ample time for rest and recovery between workouts. Sufficient rest allows the body to repair damaged tissues, build strength, and prevent overuse injuries. Listen to your body and adjust training frequency as needed.

Rehabilitation and Treatment Options for Shoulder Pain

In cases where shoulder pain occurs despite preventive measures, it is crucial to seek appropriate rehabilitation and treatment. Consult with a healthcare professional who specializes in sports medicine or a qualified physical therapist. Treatment options may include:

  1. Rest and Ice Therapy:
    Taking a break from exercises that exacerbate the pain and applying ice packs to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and alleviate discomfort.
  2. Physical Therapy Exercises and Stretches:
    A physical therapist can provide a tailored exercise program to rehabilitate the shoulder, improve range of motion, and strengthen the muscles supporting the joint.
  3. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs):
    Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or naproxen can help manage pain and reduce inflammation. However, consult a healthcare professional before using any medication.
  4. Corticosteroid Injections:
    In certain cases, corticosteroid injections may be recommended to reduce inflammation and provide temporary pain relief. This should only be administered by a qualified healthcare professional.
  5. Surgical Options for Severe Cases:
    In severe or persistent cases where conservative treatments do not provide relief, surgical intervention may be necessary. Surgery aims to repair damaged tissues, stabilize the joint, and restore function.

Tips for Modifying Bent Over Rows

If you experience shoulder pain during bent over rows, modifying the exercise can be an effective way to alleviate discomfort while still targeting the desired muscle groups. Consider the following adjustments:

  1. Using Lighter Weights or Resistance Bands:
    Reduce the amount of weight lifted or switch to resistance bands to decrease the load on the shoulders while maintaining muscle engagement.
  2. Performing Alternative Exercises that Target Similar Muscle Groups:
    Substitute bent over rows with alternative exercises that target the same muscle groups without putting excessive stress on the shoulders. Examples include seated cable rows, inverted rows, or chest-supported rows.
  3. Adjusting the Range of Motion or Angle of the Exercise:
    Limit the range of motion during bent over rows by reducing the depth of the bend or adjusting the angle of the torso. This modification can help reduce strain on the shoulders while still engaging the back muscles.
  4. Incorporating Stability Balls or Benches for Support:
    Using stability balls or benches for support can provide stability and decrease the demand placed on the shoulders during the exercise.

Seeking Professional Advice

If you experience persistent or severe shoulder pain during or after bent over rows, it is crucial to seek professional advice. Consulting a healthcare professional, such as a sports medicine specialist or orthopedic physician, can provide an accurate diagnosis and tailored recommendations. Additionally, working with a qualified fitness trainer can help in developing a personalized exercise plan that considers your specific needs and limitations.

Preventing Shoulder Injuries in the Future

To avoid shoulder injuries and maintain overall shoulder health, implement the following strategies:

  1. Maintaining Overall Shoulder Health and Mobility:
    Incorporate exercises and stretches that promote shoulder mobility and flexibility into your regular workout routine. This can help prevent imbalances and improve joint function.
  2. Incorporating Regular Shoulder-Strengthening Exercises into Workouts:
    Include exercises specifically targeting the shoulder muscles to improve strength and stability. Examples include shoulder presses, lateral raises, and external rotations.
  3. Listening to Your Body and Avoiding Exercises that Cause Pain or Discomfort:
    Pay attention to your body’s signals. If an exercise consistently causes pain or discomfort, modify or replace it with a safer alternative that targets similar muscle groups.


Understanding why you may feel shoulder discomfort during bent over rows is essential for maintaining a safe and effective workout routine. By comprehending the causes, recognizing the signs of shoulder pain, and implementing preventive measures, you can mitigate the risk of injuries and promote overall shoulder health. Prioritize proper form, seek professional advice when needed, and prioritize your long-term well-being and exercise safety. Remember, if you experience persistent or severe shoulder pain, consult with a healthcare professional to receive a proper diagnosis and personalized guidance.


Why do I feel pain in my shoulders when performing bent over rows?

Shoulder pain during bent over rows can be caused by various factors, such as poor form, muscle imbalances, or overuse. It’s important to identify the specific cause to address it effectively.

How can I prevent shoulder discomfort during bent over rows?

To prevent shoulder pain, focus on maintaining proper form and technique. Additionally, gradually increasing weight, warming up adequately, and incorporating exercises that strengthen the supporting muscles can help minimize strain.

Are there any modifications I can make to reduce shoulder strain during bent over rows?

Yes, modifying your grip width, adjusting the angle of your torso, or using alternative equipment like dumbbells or resistance bands can help alleviate shoulder discomfort. Experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you.

Could muscle imbalances be the reason for my shoulder pain during bent over rows?

Muscle imbalances, such as weak upper back muscles or tight chest muscles, can contribute to shoulder strain. Incorporating exercises that target these areas can help rebalance your muscles and reduce discomfort.

Should I seek professional guidance if I experience persistent shoulder pain during bent over rows?

If you continue to experience shoulder pain despite modifications and proper form, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional or a qualified fitness trainer. They can assess your condition and provide personalized recommendations.

Can previous shoulder injuries contribute to discomfort during bent over rows?

Yes, previous shoulder injuries or underlying conditions can make you more prone to discomfort. It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional who can evaluate your condition and provide appropriate guidance.

How can I strengthen my shoulders to reduce the risk of pain during bent over rows?

Incorporating exercises that target the muscles of the shoulder complex, such as lateral raises, face pulls, and external rotations, can help strengthen and stabilize the shoulders, reducing the likelihood of discomfort.

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