Overcoming Shoulder Pain When Benching: A Comprehensive Guide

min read


The Sports Injury Clinic

Lachlan Heron

January 18, 2024


The Iron Dilemma: When the Bench Press Turns on You

Shoulder pain when benching is the unwelcome nemesis of bench press enthusiasts. A common foe that plagues gym-goers and athletes alike, it can quickly sideline your gains and leave you questioning your entire routine. Whether you're chasing PRs or simply looking to sculpt your upper body, this unwelcome visitor can turn the iron paradise into a frustrating battlefield.

But here's the good news: you don't have to surrender to the pain! Like any worthy opponent, shoulder pain can be conquered with the right knowledge and strategies.

At The Sports Injury Clinic (TSIC), specialising in sports injury rehabilitation, our expert physiotherapists have helped countless individuals overcome shoulder pain when benching and reclaim their passion for bench press. With personalised treatment plans and proven rehabilitation techniques, we'll guide you through every step of your recovery, from initial diagnosis to pain-free, powerful pressing.

Don't let shoulder pain dictate your fitness journey. Take control of your health and embrace the power of professional support. Schedule a consultation at TSIC today, and together, we'll turn the tide on your iron dilemma.

Stop struggling in silence! Contact our expert physiotherapists for a personalised assessment and take the first step towards conquering your bench press pain.

shoulder pain when benching - good form

Demystifying Shoulder Pain: Unveiling the Bench Press Villains

The shoulder joint, a marvel of engineering, allows incredible flexibility and strength. But beneath the surface lies a complex network of muscles and tendons, particularly the rotator cuff, responsible for stabilising the entire joint. When bench press pain strikes, these overlooked champions often cry for attention.

Improper form: Think of your rotator cuff as a team of loyal guards protecting the shoulder during every press, preventing shoulder pain when benching. However, these guards can get overworked and stressed with incorrect grip width or elbow positioning. Imagine leaving your house door half-closed - burglars (pain) are much more likely to slip in!

Scapular retraction: Neglecting to pinch your shoulder blades together and down (retraction) during the bench press leaves the rotator cuff unsupported. Picture flimsy scaffolding holding up a heavy roof - disaster awaits!

Grip width: Going too wide puts excessive stress on the rotator cuff, while an overly narrow grip strains the elbow joint. Make sure to find the grip that's "just right"!

Elbow positioning: Letting your elbows flare out during the press is like inviting instability to the party. Instead, keep them tucked close to your sides for a smooth, pain-free ride.

Muscle imbalances: Remember those rotator cuff guards? Well, sometimes they're outnumbered! Compared to their bigger chest muscle counterparts, these weak rotator cuff muscles create power imbalances, leading to pain and injury. Think David vs. Goliath - a fair fight it's not!

Pre-existing conditions: Existing issues like impingement syndrome (where rotator cuff tendons get pinched), rotator cuff injury, or frozen shoulder (stiffness and pain) can significantly amplify bench press woes. Consider them hidden landmines on your fitness journey.

shoulder pain when benching - shoulder joints and rotator cuff

Form is King: Mastering the Bench Press Pain-Free

Now that we've identified the villains hiding behind your shoulder pain let's empower you to become the hero of your own benching story by mastering your bench press form. Remember, prevention is the ultimate weapon, and the key to a pain-free journey lies in mastering impeccable form.

Think of your bench press technique as a meticulously crafted recipe. Every step, from pre-workout rituals to the final press, is crucial in achieving perfection. So, grab your metaphorical chef's hat, and let's whip up a masterpiece of pain-free pressing!

Warm-up and Core Activation: Before lifting a single plate, prime your body for battle to avoid shoulder pain when benching. Gentle cardio, arm circles, and dynamic stretches will strengthen your muscles and improve blood flow. Remember to engage your core! A strong core acts like a sturdy base, stabilising your body during the press.

Grip Your Glory: Now, let's talk finger placement, which is crucial to avoid shoulder pain when benching. Go too wide, and you'll overwork your rotator cuff. Too narrow, and your elbows take the brunt of the force. Remember, Goldilocks found her "just right" porridge, and so should you!

Scapular Savvy: Those stubborn shoulder blades – retract them down and together like magnets attracting! This crucial move engages your rotator cuff, creating a stable platform for the press. Imagine Atlas holding the weight of the world on his shoulders – that's the ideal scapular position!

Elbow Etiquette: Keep your elbows tucked close to your body, angled backward. Think of them as loyal archers shooting arrows (plates) straight up, not flailing outwards like panicked knights. Proper elbow positioning protects your rotator cuff and ensures smooth, pain-free pressing.

The Descent of a Champion: Lowering the weight is as important as pressing it. Control the bar, don't let it control you! Breathe in as you descend, feeling your chest and shoulders stretch. Stop before your elbows touch the bench for a controlled, tension-filled pause. Think of it as building anticipation before your triumphant press!

Power Up with Precision: Now, the moment of truth – the ascent! Exhale and press the bar straight up, focusing on pushing through your chest and shoulders. Engage your core throughout the movement, maintaining that all-important stability. Remember, it's a controlled press, not a jerky heave!

Want to elevate your form to Olympic heights? Our expert physiotherapists at TSIC are your personal trainers in pain-free pressing. We can analyse your form, tailor exercises to strengthen your weak spots, and guide you towards benching mastery. Give us a call or book an appointment today, and let's transform your form into an ironclad shield against shoulder pain!

When the Iron Bites Back: Taming Shoulder Pain with Smart Strategies

The clang of weights has fallen silent, replaced by a nagging ache in your shoulder. Don't panic! Recognising the early signs of pain and taking swift action is crucial for a quick and smooth recovery. Ignoring it is like letting a small campfire turn into a blazing inferno.

Rest and Relief: What is the first rule of pain management, especially when dealing with shoulder pain when benching? Take a break! Give your overworked muscles time to heal. Icepacks wrapped in towels can become your loyal allies, reducing inflammation and soothing the ache. Over-the-counter pain relievers can offer temporary relief, but always consult your doctor first for the correct dosage and avoid overreliance.

Stretching Exercises for Suppleness: Now comes the part where you become your own pain warrior! Gentle stretches targeting your chest, shoulders, and rotator cuff will improve flexibility and reduce stiffness. Think of them as soft whispers coaxing those tight muscles back into harmony.

Strengthening Exercises for Stability: Resilience comes not just from flexibility but also from strength. Specific exercises targeted towards your rotator cuff and core will build a protective shield against future pain. Picture these exercises as loyal knights guarding your shoulder joint, ready to deflect any stress or strain.

Here are some examples to get you started, especially useful if you're experiencing shoulder pain when benching:

  • Doorway chest stretch: Stand in a doorway, place your forearms on either side at shoulder height, and gently lean forward until you feel a stretch in your chest. Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Pendulum exercise: Lean forward, let one arm hang naturally with a weight in your hand, and make small circles in both directions. Repeat 10 times for each arm.
  • Side plank: Start in a side plank position, keeping your body straight and core engaged. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.

Remember: Always prioritise proper form over weight! If you feel any pain, stop immediately and consult a professional.

shoulder pain when benching - physiotherapist assistance

Professional Guidance: Your Pathway to Pain-Free Pressing

While self-care is a powerful tool, sometimes you need an expert warrior in your corner. That's where physiotherapy steps in.

Through targeted assessments incorporating principles of exercise physiology, our experienced physiotherapists at TSIC will pinpoint the source of your shoulder pain when benching. We'll equip you with the right exercises, manual therapy techniques, and pain management strategies to conquer your shoulder woes and get you back to benching glory.

Don't let shoulder pain when benching sideline your fitness journey! Contact us today and let our team of expert physiotherapists be your allies in reclaiming your pain-free power on the bench.

Beyond the Bench: Conquering Shoulder Pain with TSIC

While self-care is crucial in managing shoulder pain, sometimes specialised support is needed to reclaim your pain-free bench press dominance. That's where TSIC comes in. We're not just your average gym – we're a championship team of experienced physiotherapists and therapists dedicated to helping athletes and fitness enthusiasts like you overcome sports injuries and achieve peak performance.

Shoulder Pain? We Speak Your Language.

For years, we've successfully treated countless individuals struggling with shoulder pain. Our comprehensive approach goes beyond generic exercises. We offer a personalised treatment plan tailored to your unique needs, encompassing a variety of therapeutic modalities:

  • Manual Therapy: Our skilled therapists use targeted techniques to address muscle imbalances, improve joint mobility, and reduce pain. Think of it as your muscles receiving a personalised deep tissue massage from a highly trained professional.
  • Remedial Massage: Tight knots and trigger points sometimes need a more focused approach. Remedial massage therapy can pinpoint and alleviate these muscle tension points, allowing smoother movement and quicker pain relief.
  • Myotherapy: This specialised approach delves deeper into the fascial tissues that connect your muscles, addressing pain and dysfunction at their root. Imagine expert hands untangling a complex web of tension, restoring harmony and balance to your shoulder joint.
  • General Physiotherapy: Our team also offers a comprehensive range of physiotherapy services, from electrotherapy and ultrasound to acupuncture and exercise prescription. This ensures we have the right tool for every step of your recovery journey.
  • Occupational Therapy: Worried the pain is impacting your daily life? Our occupational therapists can guide you through activities of daily living, ensuring your recovery translates into a pain-free return to your everyday routine.

Cost Concerns? We Have Solutions.

We understand that financial considerations can be a barrier to seeking help. We know that the physiotherapy cost can be a barrier to seeking help. That's why we at TSIC are committed to making your recovery journey accessible. We work with most major insurance providers and offer flexible payment options to ensure you get the care you need without breaking the bank.

Don't let shoulder pain steal your bench press dreams. Take the first step towards pain-free victory today! Contact TSIC for a consultation and let our experienced team guide you back to your iron throne.

Reclaim Your Iron Grip: Ending the Shoulder Pain Struggle

The bench press tests strength, determination, and... shoulder resilience. But when pain takes over, the iron dream turns into a frustrating nightmare. Remember, experiencing shoulder pain when benching is not a badge of honour. It's a call to action.

The good news? You're not alone, and victory is within reach. By prioritising proper form, early intervention, and professional support from TSIC, you can conquer shoulder pain and reclaim your pain-free path to benching glory.


  • Form is king: Master proper technique and prevents future pain before it starts. The right guidance from our experts can be your ironclad shield.
  • Don't ignore the whispers: Early recognition and seeking help are crucial for a faster, smoother recovery. Let our expert physiotherapists be your pain detectives, pinpointing the problem and forging the path to healing.
  • Embrace professional support: We're not just gym buddies. We're your champions in recovery. Our personalised treatment plans, diverse therapeutic modalities, and experienced team are your allies in reclaiming your pain-free power on the bench.

Take the first step towards a pain-free future today! Schedule a consultation at TSIC, and let us help you write the final chapter of your shoulder pain saga. You deserve to reign supreme on the iron throne, so let's turn the tables on pain and unleash your true benching potential.

Contact us today and reclaim your rightful place as the king (or queen) of the bench!


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