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Three Tips For Shoulder Pain During The Bench Press

Anytime someone has pain directly related to a certain movement it’s important to break down and analyze that movement. We can prescribe corrective exercises, use manual therapy and mobilization, and other modalities; but often times the solution is simple. With these three adjustments you can have almost instantaneously relief from your pain! For the sake of the videos we are using dumbbells, but the same principles and solutions apply. TIP 1: Retract and posteriorly tilt the shoulder blade. Make sure you are not just moving the entire spine into extension rather than feeling yourself move the scapula on the rib cage. This posterior tilt of the shoulder blade is primarily allowed by our upper back’s ability to extend or flatten out. This is why people that have rounded or what we call kyphotic upper backs have a very difficult time with achieving a fully locked out overhead position and likely experience anterior shoulder discomfort and pain with bench press. TIP 2: Pull the weight down, not lower the weight down. This eccentric motion needs to be very active. And you’re likely asking WHY would I pull the weight down if I am trying to control the eccentric motion or I’m doing a pushing movement. Wouldn’t pulling the weight down add more force for me to overcome once you transition back a concentric action after it hits your chest? Pulling helps to activate your rotator cuff muscles which helps to keep the ball of the shoulder joint centered. As the shoulder extends as you lower the weight the natural tendency is for the humerus to roll forward. This can place a lot of stress on the anterior structures in the front of the shoulder. By facilitating a pulling motion and activation on the way down, you will delay when the shoulder starts to roll forward. This can often reduce pain when someone reaches the bottom position of a bench press (especially with dumbbells because the range of motion the shoulder extends is greater than with a barbell). TIP 3: The easiest fix. Make sure the dumbbells are in line and parallel with your humerus. Assuming you have the right elbow position your upper arm should be around 45 degrees from your side. If you’re at 90′ degrees or directly perpendicular then you likely have the solution to your arm pain there. But with the upper arms at a 45 from your side often times the forearm, wrist, and hand position can be off as well. If we think of turning the pinkeys inward to maximally engage the lats the position of the dumbbell should be parallel to the upper arm. If not we can place some abnormal and unfriendly torque in the shoulder joint because things aren’t as congruent as they could be.

Dr. Bryan Keith

Myomuv PT

We help active adults and athletes return to the activities they love without pain, without taking time off, and feeling more confident and capable than ever before.