Lat Pulldown Shoulder Pain (Causes and How to Fix)

lat pulldown shoulder pain

Lat pulldown is a great exercise that focuses on latissimus dorsi muscles.

For weight-lifters, strong arms are significant. Most participants often complain about shoulder pain during Lat pull down. So, what are the causes of shoulder pain during Lat pulldowns?

Latissimus dorsi is a lengthy muscle spread down your back. While the Lat pulldown helps to increase the size and width of the back.

Proper form is extremely important. Otherwise, you’ll have extreme stiffness and pain in your shoulder muscles.

Let’s find out the common causes and possible ways to fix them.

What Muscles Does The Lat Pulldown Use?

Lat pulldown is a versatile exercise targeting a large group of muscles. But the target is Latissimus dorsi- your back muscles.

Other muscles actively involved during the Lat pull-down are the biceps, trapezius, forearm muscles, rhomboids, rear delts, and deltoids.

If you want to avail lat pulldown to the maximum capacity, engage the lats, and lower your shoulders and back throughout the exercise.

Instead of pulling your elbows towards the weight, pull down towards the ground. By doing this, you are using your Lats properly.

It’s important to note that the exact muscles activated can vary based on the specific form and variation of the pulldown.

For instance, using a wide grip versus a narrow grip or pulling to the front versus behind the neck can slightly shift which muscles are emphasized.

Why Do You Experience Shoulder Pain During Lat Pulldown?

Shoulder Pain During Lat Pulldown

Feeling shoulder pain during the lat pulldown is very common and can be due to multiple reasons, which are explained further.

Incorrect Form

The most common reason for getting shoulder pain during lat pulldown is improper form.

Either you pull the bar behind the neck instead of doing it from the front. If you are pulling behind the neck, it will put an excessive burden on your shoulder joints.


You can increase the weight gradually. If you use too much weight, it will put strain on your shoulder muscles.

With the help of your trainer, keeping your body’s form and resistance capacity, select the weight.

Muscle Imbalance

Some people have weak shoulder muscles, and performing lat pulldown can cause extra work on them and result in shoulder pain.

Pre-existing Shoulder Issues

If you have experienced shoulder injury or other problems in any part of your life, you might experience pain of great intensity during lat pull down.

Warm-up & stretching

If you start a high-intensity exercise without warm-up and stretching, your muscles experience discomfort and stiffness during Lat pulldown.

Adequate stretching and warm-up will reduce the chances of shoulder pain during Lat pulldown.

How To Prevent Shoulder Pain When Doing Lat Pulldown?

If you want to get rid of shoulder pain during Lat pulldown, give it a read.

lat pull down shoulder pain

Manage Your Grip

Using wide grips will create more pressure on your shoulder and result in shoulder pain.

Narrow your grip for about 3 to 4 inches to minimize the pain in your shoulder muscles. Try switching the overhand grip with the underhand grip to reduce the risk of pain.

Correct Elbow Position

The leading cause of shoulder pain during lat pulldown is your elbow position. To avoid pain, bring the elbow towards your body until the triceps are in contact with the sides of your body.

If you pull your elbows backwards or towards the weight, it will cause more shoulder pain.

Maintain A Neutral Spine

Leaning back is a poor form of technique for the lat pulldown. It creates a faulty posture and reduces the effectiveness of the exercise.

Instead of positioning your back and shoulders in an awkward position, maintain a neutral spine. Doing so will engage the right muscles and prevent the chances of injuries.

The Right Choice of Weight

Lifting a lot of weight during the lat pulldown increases the chances of shoulder injuries.

If you want to perform Lat pulldown comfortably, reduce the weight by 20 to 40%. It will not only relieve your shoulder muscles but also give the desired results.

Retract Your Scapula

Retracting the scapula is essential for lat pulldown or pull-ups. Positioning your scapula this way activates your Lats and reduces strain on your shoulder muscles.

When pulling the pulldown bar, squeeze the scapula to attain an accurate posture.

Keep Forearms Vertical

In most cases, your forearms are placed incorrectly, which puts an extra burden on your shoulder muscles.

To avoid this situation, keep the forearms in line with the ceiling throughout the exercise. Tilting your arms will result in a shoulder injury.

Performing Proper Form

There is always a correct way to perform any exercise to minimize muscle stiffness and pain. Here is a way to perform Lat pulldown with proper form.

  • You need to grip the lat pulldown machine outside of your shoulder width.
  • Manage your thigh pad so that your shins are perpendicular to the floor.
  • You already have gripped the pulldown bar outside of your shoulder grip, now keep your palm forward to it.
  • Sit down while keeping your knees right under the knee pad.
  • After reaching this point, arch your upper back slightly.
  • Bend and retract your scapula to lock your shoulder blades.
  • Stay in the same position, and avoid protracting your shoulder blades.
  • Lay flat on your back and take a deep breath. And pull down the bar.
  • Your upper back is still in an arch, hold the bar down and touch your clavicles.
  • Try to hold on to your upper back muscles.
  • Go back to the starting position and repeat.

Tips To Keeping Healthy Shoulders For Pulldown

Here are a few tips to maintain healthy shoulders of pulldown.

  • Warm-up is essential before hitting any high-intensity exercise. It will prepare your body to perform the exercises with ease.
  • Instead of jumping onto heavy weights at once, focus on gradual progress. It will improve the effectiveness of exercise and reduce the risk of shoulder pain during Lat pulldown.
  • The correct form is extremely significant. Your arms, Lats, chest, and neck are accurately positioned while performing the exercise.
  • Focus on exercises that strengthen your shoulder muscles.


Shoulder pain while performing lat pulldowns can significantly impede your training. But, it can be alleviated or prevented entirely by understanding its root causes and appropriate corrective measures.

Factors such as form, overtraining, using too much weight, and pre-existing conditions can play a role.

Through correct execution of the exercise, proper warm-ups, and listening to the body. You can enjoy the benefits of the lat pulldown without jeopardizing your shoulder health.

If pain persists, it’s always wise to consult with a physical therapist or medical professional to identify and address any underlying issues.

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