How To Prevent Shoulder Pain While Running With Good Running Form

Experiencing shoulder pain while running may not be something you expect. After all, it is the lower body that exerts effort when you run. Still, shoulder pains are common among runners. We will discuss the most common causes of shoulder pain and what steps you can take to prevent the condition from escalating. Also, we will explain the importance of proper running form and how it can help prevent shoulder problems.


Causes Of Shoulder Pain

​A. Related To Your Shoulder And Spinal System


1. Posture And Alignment

One of the main causes of bad running posture is having misaligned spine. This can be caused by wear and tear over time because of trauma to the spine. These misalignments are referred to as vertebral subluxations. (1)

  • If you suffer from this, poor running posture can put extra stress on your shoulders as you swing your arms when running.
  • If you have a misaligned upper back and are unaware of it, in time, it may cause inflammation and impinge nerves. This condition can make your shoulder pain worse.

Failure to maintain proper posture and alignment when you run is also the cause of many ankle injuries.

If you end up landing in an unbalanced way with your sole twisted inward or outward instead of flat on the ground, only two of your ankle ligaments may carry your entire body weight.

  • Compared to shoulder pain, developing an ankle injury can take much longer to cure.​

2. Injuries

If you are recovering from a condition that prevents you from moving your arm such as a stroke, you may get a condition called frozen shoulder. When you stop using your shoulder normally for extended periods of time like after a serious injury, stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint occur. (2)

Direct shoulder injuries can include sprains, strains, and bruises. These are called acute injuries and can be caused by falling on your outstretched arm, twisting of the shoulder or a sudden blow to the shoulder. Your shoulder can become numb, painful, weak and running in this condition only makes matters worse.

Another trigger is simple overuse through daily activities especially when these activities are repetitive. This can cause inflammation of the joints or fibers. (3)

3. Disc Disease

This happens when the nerves in your neck become collapsed or displaced. This can result in referred pain in the shoulder blades. Additional symptoms include numbness, weakness and the sensation of pins and needles in the area of injury. (4)

​B. Uncommon Factor


​Referred pain is pain that indicates a more serious problem that has nothing to do with your shoulder or back.

For example:

  • One of the symptoms of a heart attack is the pain in the back, neck and left shoulder. (5)
  • ​Women who have an ectopic pregnancy may also suffer from waves of pain in the shoulder or neck. (6)

If there is a different cause of your shoulder pain such as potential heart problems, the stress that the cardiovascular system experiences during running may make natural movements seem painful.

If your pain is in the right shoulder blade has been connected to diseases related to the digestive system. For example, gallstones, liver disease, and peptic ulcer disease may include shoulder pain among their symptoms. (7) Pancreatitis, on the other hand, is said to cause pain in the left shoulder blade. (8)

It is best to consult a physician if you expect that your shoulder pain is caused by a different problem. If this is the case, follow the doctor’s advice before trying any of the following tips.

​Shoulder Pain Prevention

​Although shoulder pain may be an indication of a more serious disease, this is not commonly the case. If your shoulder pain is caused by injury or overuse, there are some practical steps you can take to prevent future problems.

A. Run With Proper Form

The improper running form is the most common cause of shoulder pain that can be easily prevented by paying proper attention to your running form. Make sure you follow these steps:

1. Your Head

Tilt your head so that you gaze ahead naturally. Remember that it is your head that guides the rest of your body. Make sure your chin stays relaxed and you keep your gaze straight ahead.

​2. Upper Body Parts

Keep your torso and back naturally straight as you run. Keeping an upright position promotes optimal lung capacity. Avoid slouching and try and feel yourself naturally straighten up. Even when stepping forward, avoid bending your torso ahead but keep it straight.

​The alignment of your hips is another important factor in improving running posture. Once you have your torso in a proper position, your hips will naturally fall into proper alignment. Avoid leaning forward which puts pressure on your lower back.

3. ​Lower Body Parts

Keeping your stride in proper position will also help you conserve energy. The proper stride length should allow you to land your feet directly beneath your body. Avoid extending your leg in front of your body which can cause injury due to the pressure it places on your lower legs.

​The way your foot strikes the ground is also an important factor in achieving proper running form. Ideally, you should land in your mid-foot and then quickly roll forward. You should spend at least time as possible on the ground and instead spring silently off after each step.

Running with proper form does more than prevent shoulder pain and can also help prevent your ligaments from stretching. Running in improper form can trigger unnecessary pressure on the ligaments between the diaphragm and the stomach which move up and down as you run.

  • Constant tugging on these ligaments can trigger what are called side stitches which is a sharp pain on your side.

B. Develop A Good Arm Swing

The arm swing is one of the most critical aspects in stabilizing the body when you run. Achieving proper arm swing can help prevent shoulder pain due to injury or overuse.

​Follow these steps to achieve proper arm swing:

  • Make sure your arms swing in opposite direction of your legs
  • ​Keep your arms swinging in line with the direction of the body
  • ​Keep your shoulders bent and swing your arms from your shoulders
  • ​Try and keep your elbow at a 70 to 90-degree angle when you swing
  • Avoid crossing your arms across your chest as you swing
  • Let your arms pass your body by the hip and not the chest or thighs
  • Keep your shoulders and hands relaxed

Getting the right arm swing can not only help avoid shoulder pain but can make you use less energy and move faster.

C. Build Upper Body Strength

Simply running five times a week is not enough to build upper body strength. Strengthening your core and upper body can help you develop better running posture while increasing muscle power and flexibility. These factors combined can greatly improve your overall performance as a runner.

On your non-training days, incorporate upper body workouts such as planks, pushups and army crawls. For example, pushups promote better shoulder range of motion, better position, and overall better posture. There are also different variations of plank workouts that can be tailored for runners.

Push Up Improve Your Running Form

​Plank For Runner

​The stronger your upper body is, the less likely the chance of developing shoulder pain. Also, having a stronger core will benefit your posture and overall running performance.


Experiencing shoulder pain while you run is normally less serious than lower body injuries. It is likely caused by posture and alignment problems, injuries, inferred pain or disc disease. Once you are able to determine the cause of your shoulder pain, follow the suggested steps to improve your running form, get the right arm swing and build up upper body strength. There is no need to ever again suffer from shoulder pain from running, follow the tips we provided and enjoy your next run!

How did you like our article? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Have you experienced shoulder pain when running? What did you do about it? Let us know your stories below. Also feel free to share this information with other running enthusiasts or family and friends.