I am not one to really do chest based exercises in the gym (even though my boyfriend tells me I should do a little bit) I like to work more shoulders, back and biceps/triceps for upper body workouts. However, before I redid my gym routine I used to focus one day on chest. Weirdly after each day I did chest and shoulders my posture looked worse and my shoulders would get so tight. I am pretty flexible to begin with, I was a dancer up until college, so it was a bit of a shock to me that I lost range of motion. This is normal when you do lift, your muscles tighten, go into spasm, and cause a lack of flexibility. But my shoulders would hurt also.
Whether you are new to the gym or not you can get shoulder pain regardless. History shows that popular exercises to work the pec (chest) muscles, deltoids (shoulder) muscles, and the upper trap muscles are most commonly completed in the gym. However, these exercises ignore the rotator cuff muscles which are essential for a healthy shoulder. Overworking the chest, shoulders, and upper trap causes an imbalance in the shoulder, pull the shoulder forward, and cause an impingement. Impingement occurs when the head of the humerus (top of your arm bone) moves upward as you raise your arm. When the humerus moves upward, it can pinch the rotator cuff muscles and other structures between the humerus bone and the acromian ( the bone at the top of your shoulder where the shoulder blade and collar bone meet). A strong rotator cuff will bring the humerus back downward as you raise your arm which in turn causes space in the shoulder joint and avoiding impingement type pain.
So what can you do in the gym to keep your shoulder healthy but still achieve the rocking beach bod?… Back workouts! Especially retractions, horizontal abduction with free weights, lat pull downs, and external rotation! The back muscles (postural muscles) pull the shoulder back into its proper placement causing space within the joint! This can also help improve your postural appearance as well. Stretch also! you want to keep your full range of motion and reduce the pressure on the front of your shoulders.