Skip to content

4 Ways to Prevent Bench Press Shoulder Pain

bench press shoulder pain

The bench press is one of those exercises that everyone knows, but few people understand the subtleties of the proper technique. It’s one of the best exercises for strengthening the upper body  if done correctly. However, many gym goers will perform a bench press without understanding the movement.  Many gym goers often develop shoulder pain they attribute to the bench press. To help you avoid injury, below are our top 4 tips to prevent shoulder pain related to the bench press

Start with the Proper Grip.

Most people start out by gripping the bar too far away from their body, which puts undue stress on the shoulder joint. This may lead to injury of the rotator cuff, biceps tendon, or labrum. To avoid these kinds of injuries, make sure you grip the bar just below shoulder width. Your fingers should wrap entirely around the bar, and be sure to grab the center of the bar in the middle of your palm instead of on your finger joints. This will ensure you can generate maximum power during your press.

Avoid “Dumping” of the Shoulders.

Another common mistake when performing a bench press is allowing your shoulders to “dump” in the bottom of the movement.  If you’re not strong through your entire range of motion, you may lose technique and tension at the end ranges.  If you perform the bench press with poor technique, you could irritate the tendons of your shoulder.  To avoid injury, only lift as heavy as you can maintain good technique.

Use Good Technique.

If you do decide to perform a bench press, make sure you follow these five steps correctly.

  1. Pre-engage your stabilzing muscles (e.g. lats, serratus, pecs, and glutes).
  2. Start with a barbell set up so that the weight is evenly distributed across both shoulders.
  3. Keep your elbows between 10-30 degrees from your torso throughout the movement.
  4. Lower the bar slowly, without it bouncing off your chest. Fourth, pause briefly before pressing back up.
  5. Finally, exhale forcefully as you push the bar back up and lock your elbows at the top of the press.

Depending on your program, you may be working with a lighter weight at higher repetitions or a heavier weight at lower repetitions. In either scenario, you want to ensure you always perform the exercise with proper technique. Improper technique may lead to injury and can also prevent you from making any performance gains in your bench press.

Perform “Movement Prep” Before Bench Pressing

You should always prepare your tissues before performing any exercise, especially when lifting heavy weights.  Prepping your muscles and nervous system prior to demanding exercise will help you active muscles, increase blood flow, normalize your mobility, and make you less prone to injury.  With the bench press, exercises like a thoracic sweep and pushup plus will help you minimize injury risk and improve your performance.

Are you interested in being able to bench press without shoulder pain? We invite you to request a consultation with one of our specialists. This is an opportunity to ask questions, obtain clarity about your knee pain, and foster confidence that we can help you. If you’re certain that we’re a good fit to work together, you can decide on the next step.

If you’re in shoulder pain but unsure about what you should do, call us at (864) 558-7346 and ask how we can help.

Physical Therapist Dr. Tim Varghese

Dr. Tim Varghese

Movement Solutions

"We Help Active Adults, Ages 40-60+ Overcome Pain And Injuries And Get Back To Their Favorite Activities Without Unnecessary Medications, Injections, Or Surgeries."