Last updated on November 1st, 2022 at 02:43 pm
Who else wants to know, “Why Does My Collarbone Pop When I Do Push Ups?”
You hear a popping or clicking sound, although this typically doesn’t cause you any pain or discomfort.
However, it obviously doesn’t feel normal to hear your collarbone popping, does it?
Even though it’s not causing you any issues at the moment, I’m sure you’re slightly worried as to what this could be.
Allow me to explain.
Why Does My Collarbone Pop When I Do Push Ups?
The most common reason that your collarbone pops when you do push ups is due to weak lats and traps. This is generally caused by poor posture throughout the day. If you feel no pain when your collarbone pops this may also indicate muscle tightness in the surrounding areas. However, if you experience pain or swelling this points to a potential injury that will require professional evaluation and treatment.
1. You Have Weak Lats or Traps
If you hear a popping sound in your collarbone during push ups this is typically down to a lack of supportive tension in the back.
When I say the back, more specifically I’m referring to the lats and the traps.
If I’m being completely honest the vast majority of the population will typically have weak or under active lats and traps.
Unfortunately, this is almost reaching epidemic proportions in the modern day and age.
And the cause – we live in an era when we spend far too much time sitting.
This is most commonly seen by many of us being hunched over a desk or a computer for many hours a day.
And in recent years we have the influx of “texting neck”.
It is estimated that approximately 50% of people in the world suffer from bad posture.
And up to 80% of people will be affected by poor posture at some time in their life.
However, these figures are rapidly rising every single day.
I think this is something that many of us take for granted.
And there are even those of us who exercise and workout regularly and believe that we can’t be affected by poor posture.
However, an hour or two in the gym isn’t going to make up for sitting hunched over a desk for 10-12 hours a day.
Are You Pulling Enough?
Collarbone popping tends to happen a lot not only with push ups, but various push-based exercises.
You may even have experienced the same phenomenon while performing dips or bench press.
Basically, the lats and traps aren’t playing the supportive role they need to while you are performing these push exercises.
And this “lack of support” is more likely to cause the shoulders to roll forward whenever you’re doing push ups.
This in turn makes the muscles, tendons and ligaments literally bunch together at the front of the body around the collarbone area.
And this will typically lead to the popping sound that you hear.
I’ve always been a proponent of performing twice as many pull-based exercises than push-based.
So, realistically if you’re performing 50 push ups you should also complete 50 pull ups and 50 inverted rows to balance things out.
Okay, a crude example, but hopefully you get my meaning.
I would always suggest that you perform some type of pulling exercise prior to doing push ups, or any other push-based exercise for that matter.
Some personal favourites include band pull aparts and face pulls.
You’ll also find that manipulating and stretching the lats and traps prior to push ups can lead to better and stronger form.
Do This Every Single Day (Workout or Not)
2. Collarbone Popping Could Indicate Muscle Tightness
I guess this is very much in line with doing too much pushing.
That popping noise you hear during push ups could be a sign of muscle tightness.
The collarbone, or clavicle, is attached to a wide variety of muscles.
These include the trapezius, deltoids, pectoralis major, subclavius, sternocleidomastoid, and sternohyoid muscles.
In addition to this there are also a number of ligaments that attach to the collarbone.
You can check out a full list of the muscles and ligaments that are connected to the collarbone, as well as their functions, on the Wikipedia page for the clavicle.
However, this basically tells us that there’s a lot of muscle and ligament function that is connected to the collarbone.
In other words, there’s also a lot that can go wrong.
The delts and the pecs are among the most common muscles that can become tight if your workouts are very push-focused.
And as I’ve already mentioned, this is certainly something that is extremely prominent in many workouts.
If you add to this the potential for poor posture, you’ll soon find that the upper body can become overrun with tight, weak, or overused muscles.
So, if you typically feel quite sore before, during, and after a push-based workout this could be a sign of muscle tightness in one or more of these areas.
And the result of this could lead to the popping that you feel in the collarbone during push ups.
3. The More Serious Side of Collarbone Popping
I’ve only mentioned the non-painful side of collarbone popping so far.
This is more of an annoyance than anything else.
However, if you find when doing push ups the popping is actually quite painful this could definitely be a sign of something more serious.
I guess the least serious of these is tendinitis.
This is caused by an inflammation of the tendons that are attached to the collarbone, which is typically brought about by overtraining push ups.
So, not only will you hear and feel your collarbone popping, it will also be quite sore as well.
I say this is the least serious, as tendinitis can simply go away if you rest the affected area.
In other words, take a break from doing push ups and other push-based exercises.
With that being said, if the inflammation typically comes and goes then you will need to treat the affected area with cold.
However, chronic pain should be treated with heat.
You may also need to take over-the-counter medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen for pain relief.
If the pain is more severe then visit your Doctor for a proper diagnosis, and they may administer corticosteroid injections, depending on the severity of the inflammation.,
It Could Be Even More Serious
If you feel extreme pain whenever your collarbone pops during push ups then obviously stop immediately.
There’s no two ways about it, you need to be evaluated by a medical professional.
I’m all for working through pain when you’re training, but it’s important to know the difference between general DOMS and severe pain.
The collarbone is the only long bone in the body that lies horizontally and it is not protected by a layer of muscle like most other bones.
So, it just so happens that the collarbone is the most commonly broken bone in the human body.
I would hope that you would realise that something is very wrong if the bone was broken, as the pain would literally be unbearable.
A couple of other factors to consider with collarbone popping are arthritis of the shoulder.
The acromioclavicular (AC) joint connects the shoulder blade to the collarbone.
And the AC joint happens to be susceptible to all forms of arthritis, although it is most commonly affected by osteoarthritis.
You should also be aware that this isn’t just an “age thing” and is something that can set in following a shoulder fracture.
Something else that can cause the collarbone to pop when doing push ups is thoracic outlet syndrome.
Basically, this is caused by an excess of blood vessels and nerves in the thoracic outlet, which is located just between the neck and chest.
These blood vessels and nerves literally get stuck between the muscles and bones and can cause discomfort and pain.
However, this is typically dealt with through physiotherapy and specific exercises.
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
So, hopefully you now understand why your collarbone pops when you do push ups.
As I’ve mentioned, the most common cause is due to poor posture.
It could also be that various muscles around the collarbone area are either tight, weak, or overused.
With that being said, if you feel pain whenever your collarbone pops this points to a more serious issue.
Whether this is a fracture, arthritis, or thoracic outlet syndrome should only be diagnosed by a medical professional.
So, if you are feeling any pain at all I seriously advise you to seek medical help.
Here’s another issue with push ups I’ve written about, which you may well have experienced, namely getting a tingling sensation in your arms when you do push ups.
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.