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Bench Press Shoulder Pain: Causes and Solutions

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If you’re someone who enjoys strength training, chances are you’ve incorporated the bench press into your routine. This classic exercise is a popular way to build strength in your chest, triceps, and shoulders. However, if you’ve experienced shoulder pain during a bench press, you know how frustrating it can be. In this article, we’ll explore the common causes of bench press shoulder pain and provide tips to help you prevent and manage it.

Shoulder pain during the bench press can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor form, overuse, or an underlying injury. It’s important to understand the root cause of your pain in order to effectively treat it. We’ll dive into these causes and provide strategies to help you avoid pain altogether.

Our goal is to provide a comprehensive guide to help you bench press without shoulder pain. We’ll discuss proper form, warm-up techniques, and exercises to strengthen the muscles that support your shoulders. We’ll also cover pain management techniques, such as ice and rest, to help you recover if you do experience pain. By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge you need to bench press with confidence and without pain.

Unveiling the Culprits: Identifying Causes of Bench Press Shoulder Pain

If you’re experiencing shoulder pain during bench press, it’s essential to identify the root cause of the problem. Here are some of the most common culprits of bench press shoulder pain:

Improper Form and Technique

Poor form and technique are often the primary causes of shoulder pain during bench press. Rounded shoulders, incorrect grip width, and excessive bar path can all stress the shoulder joint and lead to pain. For instance, if your grip is too wide, it can put unnecessary strain on your shoulders. Similarly, if you have rounded shoulders, it can reduce your range of motion and make it harder to engage your chest muscles.

To avoid these issues, it’s crucial to learn and practice proper bench press technique. You can find plenty of resources online, such as videos and tutorials, that can teach you the correct form. Additionally, consider working with a qualified trainer who can help you identify any form mistakes and provide personalized feedback.

Muscle Imbalances and Weaknesses

Muscle imbalances and weaknesses can also contribute to shoulder pain during bench press. For example, tight chest muscles and weak rotator cuff muscles can affect proper mechanics and lead to pain. Scapular instability, or a lack of stability in the shoulder blades, can also cause issues by altering the position of the shoulder joint.

To address these imbalances, consider incorporating exercises and stretches that target the affected muscles. For instance, you can do rotator cuff exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles or foam rolling to release tension in the chest muscles. Additionally, try to maintain proper posture throughout the day, as this can help prevent muscle imbalances from developing.

Overtraining and Insufficient Recovery

Pushing yourself too hard and neglecting rest can also lead to shoulder pain during bench press. Overtraining and insufficient recovery can cause overuse injuries in the shoulder, such as tendinitis or bursitis. It’s crucial to listen to your body and give yourself sufficient rest between workouts to avoid these issues.

To prevent overtraining and promote proper recovery, consider following a structured training program that includes rest days. Additionally, make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and staying hydrated to support your body’s recovery processes.

Pre-existing Conditions and Injuries

If you have a pre-existing injury or condition in the shoulder, it’s essential to be cautious when performing bench press. The exercise can aggravate existing issues and cause further damage to the shoulder joint. If you experience persistent pain or have a history of shoulder issues, consider consulting a healthcare professional or physical therapist before continuing with bench press.

In some cases, alternative exercises or modifications may be more suitable. For instance, you can try using dumbbells instead of a barbell or performing bench press on an incline or decline bench to reduce stress on the shoulder joint. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to shoulder health.

Preventing the Pangs: Strategies for Pain-Free Bench Pressing

If you’re experiencing shoulder pain during bench press, it’s important to take action to prevent further discomfort and potential injury. By mastering the mechanics of the exercise, warming up and cooling down properly, strengthening your support system, and listening to your body, you can minimize your risk of shoulder pain and improve your bench press performance.

Mastering the Mechanics

To prevent shoulder pain during bench press, proper form is crucial. Make sure to maintain a flat back, retracted shoulder blades, and controlled bar movement throughout the exercise. Seek professional guidance or use video analysis tools to ensure correct technique. Starting with lighter weights and gradually increasing as your form improves can also help prevent injury.

Warming Up and Cooling Down

Dynamic stretches and light weight exercises can help prepare your shoulders for exertion before bench pressing. After your workout, static stretches and foam rolling can promote flexibility and recovery. Consider incorporating specific warm-up and cool-down routines for the bench press, such as arm circles, band pull-aparts, and shoulder dislocations.

Strengthening Your Support System

To improve shoulder support and prevent pain during bench press, focus on exercises that target your rotator cuff muscles, scapulothoracic muscles, and core stability. Examples include face pulls, external rotations, planks, and bird dogs. Incorporating these exercises into your regular workout routine can help prevent shoulder injury and improve your bench press performance.

Listening to Your Body and Knowing Your Limits

Respect pain signals and avoid pushing through discomfort, which can worsen injuries. Take rest days, adjust weight, or modify exercises if you experience pain. Prioritize long-term health and sustainable progression over pushing your limits recklessly. By listening to your body and knowing your limits, you can prevent shoulder pain and improve your bench press performance safely and effectively.

Managing the Ache: Techniques for Pain Relief and Rehabilitation (If Applicable)

Home Remedies and Self-Care:

If you are experiencing shoulder pain during chest press, there are several home remedies and self-care techniques that you can try to relieve the pain. Applying ice packs to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and relieve acute pain. You can also use topical pain relievers to help manage pain.

Resting the affected area is also important to allow it to heal properly. Gentle stretches and self-massage techniques can promote blood flow and reduce stiffness. However, it is important to avoid overexerting yourself and causing further damage.

It is essential to consult a healthcare professional if the pain persists or worsens. They can help diagnose the underlying cause of the pain and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Professional Intervention:

If you are experiencing chronic shoulder pain, seeking professional intervention may be necessary. Physical therapy, massage therapy, or other professional interventions can help manage pain and promote healing.

Physical therapy can help address underlying causes of pain and improve range of motion. Massage therapy can help relieve tension and promote relaxation. Other professional interventions, such as acupuncture or chiropractic care, may also be beneficial.

It is important to seek professional guidance for personalized treatment plans. Your healthcare provider can help determine the best course of action for your specific needs and ensure that you receive the care you need to manage your shoulder pain effectively.


In conclusion, bench press shoulder pain is a common issue among weightlifters. However, it is often preventable through proper form, training strategies, and listening to your body. It is important to address pain promptly and seek professional help if needed.

To prevent bench press shoulder pain, it is important to prioritize safe and sustainable bench press practices for long-term shoulder health and fitness goals. This includes warming up properly, using proper form, gradually increasing weight and reps, and taking breaks when necessary.

Remember to listen to your body and pay attention to any discomfort or pain during bench press exercises. Don’t push through the pain, as it can worsen the injury and potentially lead to long-term damage. Seek professional help if needed, and don’t hesitate to modify your workout routine to accommodate your body’s needs.

By following these tips and prioritizing your shoulder health, you can enjoy the benefits of bench press exercises without the risk of shoulder pain.

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Lauren Price

Lauren Price is the co-owner of Lava Barre, a specialized fitness boutique that focuses on achieving balance for the body, mind, and soul. With a passion for fitness and wellness, Lauren and her business partner Vanessa set out to create a unique barre class that not only challenges the body but also inspires the mind.

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