It’s a question I see and hear a lot, “Why Do My Shoulders Feel Sore After Jump Rope?”
Jumping rope is without doubt one of the best cardiovascular exercises you can possibly do.
Don’t believe me?
Try jumping rope for as long as most people typically do steady-state cardio.
There’s no contest.
However, I know many of you may be limited in the time that you can jump rope purely because your shoulders start to ache.
So, what’s going on here?
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Why Do My Shoulders Feel Sore After Jump Rope?
The main reason you feel jump rope in your shoulders is due to poor technique. Firstly, you should be spinning the rope from your wrists and not your shoulders. You may also have your arms too wide or too high, which automatically activates the delts more. The length of the jump rope may also be stimulating your shoulders more, especially if it’s too short.
1. You’re Not Using Your Wrists
You should be using your wrists to spin the jump rope.
This is the main issue as I see it.
Many people tend to use their entire arm to spin the jump rope, which simply brings the shoulder joint more into play.
I would say that this is even more true as you start to fatigue.
Look, I’m not going to say there is absolutely no shoulder involvement when you jump rope.
And yet, millions may tell you otherwise.
Just holding the handles of a jump rope in your hands will in some way activate the shoulders and traps.
But not enough for them to become fatigued, and definitely not sore.
So, if you are feeling it in your shoulders the likelihood is that you’re using your arms and shoulders to spin the rope.
You should literally be using a flick of wrist with every rotation of the rope.
If you’ve got into the bad habit of using your arms, this may take some getting used to.
But, trust me, your shoulders will thank you for it.
Additionally, by using your wrists you’ll be able to progress to more advanced jump rope techniques a lot easier
I can tell you now that trying to attempt double unders while using your arms and shoulders to spin the rope will be extremely difficult.
How to Do Double Unders
2. You’re Arms Are Too Far Out to The Side
Another common reason that your shoulders feel sore after jumping rope is because you’re holding your arms too far out to the side.
In fact, this is an extremely common error in technique that I often see.
Your arms should literally be totally relaxed and hanging down at your sides.
As soon as you move your arms further out you bring the shoulders much more into play.
If you think about it, by having your arms slightly wider you have almost started to perform a lateral raise movement.
Okay, admittedly that’s a slight exaggeration, but hopefully you get what I mean.
The further away your arms are from your body, the more you start to stimulate the shoulder muscles.
So, aim to keep your arms tight to the body whenever you jump rope.
3. You’re Arms Are Too High
Speaking of arm position, having your arms too high will once again activate the delts.
Looking at another exercise once more, you are almost at the beginning of a shrug exercise by holding your arms too high.
As I’ve mentioned, the correct technique is to simply let your arms hang naturally by your sides.
Your hands should typically be at around pocket height.
However, I guess this does also depend on the length of your arms and your height.
As I say, just let your arms hang completely naturally by your sides.
As soon as you have a bend in the elbow, typically when you’re holding the jump rope too high, you’ll activate the arms and shoulders much more.
4. Your Jump Rope is Too Long or Too Short For You
I guess the length of your jump rope will equate to arm position once more.
If the rope is too long there is a tendency to bend at the elbow and hold the rope too high.
Then again, the additional length may force you to have your arms wide and away from the body.
As I’ve mentioned above, both of these techniques will activate both the arms and shoulders a lot more.
With that being said, if your jump rope is too short this can also have an impact.
Admittedly, you’re more likely to keep your arms closer to the body with a short rope.
However, you’re also more likely to be slightly crouched down or over, which will put the shoulders in an unnatural position.
I will also say that you tend to use your arms a lot more to spin the rope when it is too short.
There’s an easy check to see if a jump rope is the right height for you.
Step on the middle of the rope and then pull it tight.
The ends of the jump rope (excluding the handles) should come to your armpits.
If the rope is too long you will be able to shorten it until you have the perfect height.
However, if the jump rope is too short, it’s time to invest in a newer model.
How to Pick Jump Rope Size
5. Are You Using a Weighted Jump Rope?
The weight of your jump rope will obviously make a huge difference as to whether your shoulders will feel sore or not.
A jump rope typically used for speed and tricks, etc. will typically weigh not much more than one-quarter of a pound, approximately 113 grams.
However, the normal class of weighted jump ropes will range anywhere from one to six pounds in weight.
And there is the possibility of getting even heavier jump ropes.
Now weighted jump ropes provide superb additional cardiovascular benefits.
However, they will also provide a bit more of a resistance workout for the upper body.
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And this is especially true of the arms and shoulders.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using weighted jump ropes, in fact I think it’s a great way to add some resistance to a fantastic conditioning exercise.
But, just be aware that the more weight a jump rope has, the more of a shoulder workout you can expect to get.
What Jump Rope Should I Buy?
So, hopefully you now understand why you have sore shoulders after jumping rope.
As you can see this mainly comes down to technique.
Basically, your arms should hang perfectly naturally and relaxed by your sides, and you spin the rope with a flick of the wrists.
If you adhere to this form then you certainly won’t be feeling it in your shoulders.
With that being said, the length of your rope may force you to hold your arms in an unnatural position, thus leading to more shoulder activation.
Plus, let’s not forget that if you’re using a weighted rope you can expect more of an arm and shoulder workout.
However, once you have your technique, rope length, and weight sorted, there are few better conditioning exercises.
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Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.