Shoulder pain while benching is a very common complaint that many of our clients have dealt with, so today we’re going to share our top 3 tips to solve shoulder pain while benching!
Reduce The Range Of Motion
Tip number one is to simply reduce the range of motion. For a lot of people who are dealing with shoulder pain while benching, their shoulder pain is worse at the very bottom of the lift, where the shoulder is the most extended.
If you find yourself in this situation, what you can do is simply reduce the range of motion so that you temporarily avoid that very bottom position.
Two great bench variations to do just this are floor presses and spoto presses.
For the floor press you would simply lie on the floor and do a bench press as you normally would. But, the floor is now going to artificially limit the range of motion and stop you from going into the very bottom portion of the lift.
For a spoto press you’re going to start on the bench like you would for a normal bench press. However, unlike a regular bench press, you’re going to stop shy of the chest. The good thing about the spoto press, as compared to the floor press, is that you can start slowly working down closer towards your chest as your shoulder get less painful over time, which allows you to progress back towards normal benching.
So for a lot of people, we can start with floor presses, and then as the shoulder tolerates more and more training stress, you can work towards spoto presses with a more limited range of motion and then a greater range of motion over time.
Include An Upper Back/Rotator Cuff Warm-Up
The second tip is to include a little bit of a longer warmup than you would for normally benching, with exercises focused on the upper back and the rotator cuff.
We usually recommend using these exercises as a warm up because they’re tolerated very well by people who have shoulder pain, so they’re less likely to flare shoulder pain up, and they’re a great way to get the shoulder warmed up and ready to actually bench press.
Some of our go to movements to do just this are things like kettlebell arm bars, bottoms up kettlebell screwdrivers, band no monies, and band pull aparts.
We often recommend our clients start with three sets of two or three of these exercises in a sequence before benching as a way to warm up your shoulder, decrease pain, and get ready to handle heavier weight.
Press In A Different Plane Of Motion
The third and final tip is that if benching is simply too painful for your shoulder even with these other variations and tips, then change the plane of motion in which you’re pressing. To do this, we can use a single arm landmine press.
This is a great pressing variation because it’s a mix of a horizontal and a vertical press, it tends to be tolerated pretty well by people who are dealing with shoulder pain, and it’s a great way to continue pressing while avoiding aggravating the shoulder.
Over time, as the shoulder is feeling better, you’re going to start slowly progressing back towards regular benching, even with some of the reduced range of motion variations, like we talked about before.
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