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Avoid Pain During the Bench Press

Shoulder pain is common in many people who workout. Some pain is severe and immediate, most likely caused by an acute injury while other pain is more constant and nagging, most likely the result of poor mechanics and overuse of the shoulder.

Most people will address this pain in one of two ways. Some attempt to keep working through this type of pain, while others will avoid working out all together. Both methods are less than ideal. Continuing to push yourself through shoulder pain, especially during pressing movements such as the bench press can increase pain and your risk of more serious rotator cuff injury. Pain is the body’s way of telling you that something is wrong and failure to heed this warning can sideline you for a long time.

Avoiding all of these beneficial upper body movements for fear of causing serious injury isn’t any better. While it is smart to avoid the exercises for a couple of weeks following the initial injury, long term avoidance is only going to lead to weakness and severely limit your ability to continue with a beneficial training program.


It is smart when you feel pain in the shoulder to limit the stresses you place on it until the pain starts to subside. Once you are ready to begin training again, using a neutral grip can allow you to reeducate the chest muscles while limiting the stresses placed on the rotator cuff. A neural grip allows the rotator cuff tendons to move about the shoulder with less impingement between the humeral head and acromion process, reducing the risk of pain and further injury.


Lie on a flat bench and hold the dumbbells at chest level with palms facing each other. Perform the press straight upwards while exhaling until the elbows are almost locked out. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement.

After a few weeks if your shoulder pain is gone, begin regular bench pressing. Start light and work your way back up in weight slowly. If the shoulder pain persists, talk with your doctor to make sure that there is not a more serious rotator cuff pathology.

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