bench presss shoulder issues

Shoulder Issues Bench Press

Experiencing shoulder pain during a bench press workout can disrupt your exercise routine and impact your fitness goals. This blog post delves into common shoulder issues related to the bench press exercise, focusing on causes like shoulder impingement and muscle imbalance, and offers targeted strategies for relief and prevention.

Understanding Shoulder Pain When Bench Pressing

The bench press is a staple exercise in strength training, targeting multiple muscle groups. However, improper technique can lead to significant stress on the shoulders, potentially causing pain and injury. Identifying the root causes of shoulder pain when bench pressing is crucial for recovery and continued progress.

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

Several factors contribute to shoulder pain during bench press workouts:
  • Muscle Imbalance: Predominantly training certain muscle groups can lead to an imbalance that puts excessive strain on the shoulder joint.
  • Poor Start Position: Incorrect start position in the barbell bench press can increase the risk of injury by placing undue stress on the shoulder blades and joints.
  • Rotator Cuff Strain: The rotator cuff muscles, essential for stabilizing the shoulder, can become strained or torn if they are not adequately strengthened or if the exercise is performed incorrectly.
These issues often manifest as pain in the front of the shoulder, restricted range of motion, and discomfort that persists even outside of exercise sessions.

How to Address and Prevent Shoulder Pain

Incorporating preventative measures and adjustments into your workout routine can help manage and prevent shoulder pain. Here’s how:

Optimize Your Bench Press Technique

  • Check Your Form: Ensure your back is flat on the bench, and your feet are firmly planted on the ground. The bar should be lifted directly over your shoulders in the start position, with your eyes under the bar.
  • Mind Your Elbows: Keep your elbows at about a 45-degree angle from your body to decrease stress on the shoulder joints.
  • Control the Bar Path: Lower the bar to your mid-chest and press it up while maintaining a controlled, steady motion to protect the shoulder joint and engage the correct muscle groups.

Strengthening Exercises for Shoulder Stability

  • Rotator Cuff Exercises: Incorporate exercises like external rotation with a dumbbell or a resistance band to strengthen your rotator cuff muscles.
  • Scapular Stability Workouts: Exercises that focus on the shoulder blade, such as scapular retraction drills, can enhance the stability of the shoulder blade, reducing the risk of pain.
  • Balance Push and Pull Movements: To prevent muscle imbalances, include an equal amount of pulling exercises (like rows and pull-ups) in your routine.

Implement Precautionary Strategies

  • Warm-Up Properly: Begin with dynamic stretches that target the shoulder muscles, improving range of motion and flexibility.
  • Gradual Progression: Avoid sudden increases in weight or intensity, which can shock the muscles and lead to injuries. Gradually build up the intensity of your workouts.
  • Rest and Recover: Allow adequate recovery time between bench press sessions to let the soft tissue heal and reduce the chances of chronic pain.

Advanced Solutions for Persistent Shoulder Issues

If you are consistently experiencing shoulder pain when bench pressing, it might be time to consult a professional. Physical therapists or sports medicine specialists can offer personalized advice based on a detailed assessment of your posture, muscle strength, and exercise routine.

Therapeutic Interventions

  • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can develop a program that includes specific rotator cuff exercises and soft tissue therapies to address shoulder impingement and other issues.
  • Chiropractic Care: Chiropractors can provide spinal and shoulder adjustments, which may help alleviate pain by improving body mechanics and alignment.
  • Medical Treatment: In cases of severe pain or injuries like rotator cuff tears, medical treatments such as injections or surgery may be necessary.


Dealing with shoulder issues during the bench press requires a careful approach that includes proper technique, preventative exercises, and potentially professional help. By understanding the mechanics of the shoulder and implementing strategic exercises and adjustments, you can continue to enjoy the benefits of the bench press without compromising your shoulder health. Don’t let shoulder pain hold you back—take action to protect and strengthen your shoulders today.