As part of our Arise Physical Therapy bench series, Kelsey outlines some of the origins of shoulder pain while you bench. She demonstrates ways to fix this pain with technique adjustment, stretches and pre-bench exercises to activate your shoulder and reduce that pain. While the main muscle targeted during bench press is in your chest, your shoulders also become activated and are more easily injured if your form is incorrect. In Kelsey's week 2 demonstration video (HERE), you will find valuable information to reduce or prevent shoulder pain and injuries while benching.
Pain Points and Technique Adjustments
Kelsey identifies some common origins of shoulder pain while benching. These may be from
1) Tight biceps and/or pecs
2) Improper activation of the Rotator Cuff
3) Underlying joint issues
4) Or, too much depth during the bench
To combat this pain, there are two easy technique adjustments that Kelsey suggests you explore as follows:
1) Change the width of your grip on the bar
A wider grip typically places more emphasis on the chest muscles and reduces the depth of your bench
Conversely, a narrower grip places more emphasis on the triceps and the inner portion of the chest muscles. This lengthens the range of motion of the shoulders and places more stress on the triceps.
It's important to note that changing the grip width can also affect the amount of stress placed on the shoulder joint, and a grip that is too wide or too narrow for an individual's body type can increase the risk of injury. Therefore, it's important to choose a grip width that feels comfortable and safe for you while still allowing you to effectively target the muscles you want to work.
2) Limit the depth of your bench
Limit the depth of your bench with a block. This is a common technique used to help prevent injury and improve form. By placing a block or board on your chest, you can limit the range of motion of the barbell and prevent your elbows from dropping too far below your body, which can put excessive stress on your shoulders and chest muscles. As you perform the bench press, make sure to lower the barbell until it touches the block or board on your chest, and then push the barbell back up without bouncing it off the block or board.
Pre-bench stretches and exercises
During this week's video, Kelsey demonstrates 3 pre-bench exercises that may reduce pain and activate your muscles to help prevent injury and make your benching experience a lot better.
1) "Lacrosse Ball, Fixes All"
Take a lacrosse ball and lean on it against a wall. Roll the lacrosse ball around your armpit, shoulder blade and rotator cuff area until you find a tender spot. Stop there and relax into the lacrosse ball for 30 seconds. After that, roll the ball around some more, finding additional tender spots. Do this for each side and repeat the same process. Kelsey suggests doing this for 2-3 minutes each day.
2) Banded External Rotation
With a light band wrapped around a pole, stand straight with an engaged core and your elbows at your side. Pull the band out until you feel slight resistance and return to a relaxed position. You should feel this in your lat/rotator cuff area. If you feel it more in the front of your shoulder, Kelsey recommends locking your shoulder in a little more.
3) Prone W
Take a 2.5lb weight (no more than 3lb) and lay on your stomach. Lay one hand on the ground in line with your forehead and put your opposite arm on the ground to your side locked at a 90 degree angle from the elbow. While holding the weight with this same arm, lift your elbow up, ensuring your elbow, arm and hand are aligned. This particular exercise will force your external rotator to stay engaged.
Shoulder pain is a common issue for many people while bench pressing. It's important to understand the origins of this pain and take appropriate measures to prevent injury and improve your form. Kelsey's video provides valuable information on ways to reduce or prevent shoulder pain and injuries while benching through technique adjustment, pre-bench exercises, and stretches. By changing the width of your grip on the bar or limiting the depth of your bench, you can help reduce stress on your shoulders and chest muscles. Additionally, the pre-bench exercises demonstrated by Kelsey can help activate your muscles and prevent injury. It's important to remember to always prioritize safety and form while bench pressing to ensure long-term success and injury-free training.
Take a look at week 2of our bench press series below. You'll find all the information we've discussed in this blog and more!
If you're having issues with pain and discomfort as a result of improper form, come down and see us in the clinic. You can CLICK HERE to book an evaluation with us. Or, for some short instructional videos, follow our Instagram page byCLICKING HERE