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Updated On: February 17, 2023 1 Comment
Having shoulder pain during bench press? Shoulder pain and bench press go hand in hand for many gym-goers. Benching is one of the best exercises for gaining muscle mass and overall strength. Therefore, we want to fix the shoulder pain you might have during or after bench press so you don't avoid this highly effective compound exercise
In this article, we're going to go over a few important things that you should be doing before, during and after benching, so that you can eliminate shoulder pain for good and improve your bench press game.
First of all, you need to know if you have a shoulder injury because that will change the course of action.
If you have an injury, it will be somewhat obvious. You will likely have some of these symptoms:
If you have any of these symptoms, definitely go get it checked by a physiotherapist. Shoulder injuries are no joke and you don’t want to make it worse and end up needing surgery.
That said, for most of us, an injury isn’t the culprit (at least not yet).
So, we're going to address all seven issues.
Note: These will not only fix your shoulder pain issues, they will also improve your lifts, allowing you to lift more than ever.
Is your form correct?
We know, we’ve all been benching for years. We know proper form.
Well, sometimes, people know the proper form, but when they lift, they don’t follow what they know. They just want to get that weight up. Maybe it’s too heavy and your form gets sloppy or maybe you've created bad benching habits.
Check your form.
If you don’t have someone experienced with you, then take a video of yourself doing bench press and watch it later to see if anything with your form looks off.
Here is a bench press checklist to improve your form and fix shoulder pain that arises from bad technique.
Check out our Ultimate Bench Press Guide for an in-depth look in perfecting this essential lift.
Warming up is a fundamental part of training that is often overlooked. Many people slack when it comes to warm ups.
There are many benefits to warming up:
Moreover, it provides mental benefits that are just as essential as physical. It gets your mind in the state in needs to be in to lift heavy weights.
How to warm up
A good warm up consists of the following:
Just make sure not to tire your muscles before you get to your target weight. The reps don't need to be so high during the warm up sets. For Set 5, you could even do just a few reps.
Resistance bands are great for dynamic stretching.
Many people have muscle imbalances. Some worse than others. When it comes to bench press, you need to use your back, shoulders and rear delts. Often times, people have weak rear delts, front delts, and lats, which causes shoulder pain when benching. These weakness lead to compensation during presses, putting more pressure on the shoulder joints than there should be.
Therefore, we highly recommend that you train your anterior delts, rear delts and your whole posterior chain as much as you train your chest. Equalize.
If you are doing a back/chest day, change things up. Separate the two, as you are most likely working your chest harder than your back. Give your back its own day. Give your shoulders their own day.
Here are some splits you can do to make sure you are targeting all muscle groups effectively:
Day 1: Upper - Chest/Abs
Day 2: Lower - Quads/Glutes
Day 3: Upper - Back/Rear Delts/Abs
Day 4: Lower - Hamstrings/Calves
Day 5: Upper - Shoulders/Arms/Abs
Day 6: Lower - Quads/Glutes
Day 7: Rest
- Then repeat.
Day 1: Chest/Abs
Day 2: Legs
Day 3: Back/Abs
Day 4: Shoulders/Arms
Day 5: Rest
- Then repeat.
What's more, find out if one side of your body is stronger than the other. If one shoulder is stronger than the other, you may be compensating and messing up your form, which will lead to pain, and worse, injury.
Performing chest exercises with dumbbells is another great way to recognize then work on any muscle imbalances you may be facing. Do unilateral exercises and single arm lifts will help you to balance out the muscles in both sides thus reducing the potential for experiencing pain.
If you have a weak rotator cuff, you definitely need to work on that if you want to avoid a bench press blow out.
When you are bench pressing, you need to have stability and strength in your shoulders. There are four relatively small muscles that are mainly responsible for stabilizing the shoulder - teres minor, infraspinatous, supraspinatous and sucscapularous - these are known collectively as the 'rotator cuff'.
When the rotator cuff muscles contract they pull on the rotator cuff tendon, which causes the shoulder to rotate. During presses, you may experience some shoulder pain if your rotator cuff is weak. Weak rotator cuff muscles are often the causes of rotator cuff impingement syndrome and rotator cuff tears and strains.
So, it’s definitely advantageous to strengthen your rotator cuff.
There are many ways to strengthen your rotator cuff. One example is resistance band rotator cuff exercises.
While your rotator cuff is vital to performing presses, your scapular is where it all starts. Before you can stabilize your rotator cuff during bench press, you must stabilize your scapula (shoulder blades). Think of your scapular as the base of the bench press, the foundation. You must first stabilize your shoulder blades by retracting them, which will then stabilize your rotator cuff (as long as your rotator cuff muscles are in good condition). It's vital to add scapular stabilization exercises into your normal training regimen to avoid potential injuries while improving your strength.
If you’re new to exercising or just getting back into it after a long hiatus you need to proceed with a gradual increase of stress you put your muscles through. If your body isn’t ready to lift a certain amount of weight, an attempt to do so could result in a muscle tear or strain. What you’re looking to do is to achieve progressive overload in a controlled manner by adding the stress to your muscular system over time. This is how your muscles become stronger along with your cartilage, tendons and ligaments.
To avoid making the mistake of over-training you can do the following:
Soft tissue adhesion can occur if a muscle is constantly overworked. The muscle will stiffen up thus reducing the blood circulation which over time can develop into scar tissue. The negative effects of this adhesion or scar tissue are pain, decreased range of motion and slower muscle firing time.
Trigger points are those pesky knots that develop in your muscle when it is overused or injured. These knots can cause joint pain and can also send referred pain to other unaffected areas of the body.
Myofascial release for shoulder pain can alleviate these issues. You need to locate the trigger point then apply pressure to it. You can use your fingers, lacrosse ball, foam roller, massage gun or a tennis ball or any other type of hard rubber ball. You need to provide an adequate amount of pressure on the trigger point for at least 30 seconds. Continue to do this until the tenderness goes away.
Treatment for shoulder pain after bench pressing will vary depending on the injury. As a last resort surgery may be necessary but most doctors might recommend the following methods to provide some relief.
To wrap this all up:
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