Shoulder soreness is one of the most prevalent complaints among exercisers who regularly practice the bench press since this complex exercise exerts substantial stress on the different tissues that strengthen and move the shoulder.

Fortunately, most occurrences of bench press shoulder discomfort are simple to treat with instant muscle relieve ways and have a clear cause, making bench press shoulder pain at most a brief setback for most exercisers.

Bench press shoulder pain is typically caused by rotator cuff strain – a group of muscles that help in the mobility and strengthening of the shoulder as a whole – however, a variety of different ailments presenting shoulder pain as a symptom are also conceivable.

Reasons Why Shoulder Hurts When Benching

Pain may be tough to measure in the gym, especially for individuals with heavy weightlifting routines. Minor discomfort is natural in some cases due to the muscles being stretched and strengthened. In other cases, pain is the body’s way of indicating damage.

Many patients report shoulder discomfort while bench pressing or other overhead workouts, as well as a sensation of the shoulder “clicking,” “catching,” or “locking.” The most common cause is an injury to the shoulder’s AC (acromioclavicular) joint.

The AC joint is the part of the shoulder where the collarbone connects to a curved bone called the acromion, forming the upper section of the shoulder.

Weightlifting injuries to this joint are more common as athletes get older, but both can cause intense discomfort at the top of the shoulder that can radiate into the trap muscle. Two of the most prevalent causes of AC joint damage are listed below- 

  • Distal Clavicle Osteolysis in Younger Athletes – This ailment, commonly known as “weightlifters shoulder,” affects not just weightlifters but anyone who performs repetitive overhand actions. This damage is the consequence of repeated wear on the joint, not a single incidence.
  • Shoulder Osteoarthritis in Seniors – Pre-existing arthritis in the acromioclavicular joint owing to bone and cartilage deterioration or a past injury is the most common cause of AC joint problems in older athletes.

Some reasons are- 

1. Too Much Pressure

Overuse injuries are another concern related to the bench press that can cause shoulder discomfort. These injuries are not directly due to any failure in form adherence or badly executed bench press mechanics but rather to executing such bench presses too frequently without adequate rest and recuperation in between training sessions.

To minimize overtraining and overuse problems, the exerciser must consume appropriate macronutrients, receive enough sleep, and give their muscles enough rest between exercises to recover properly.

Shoulder discomfort is simply one indication of muscle overuse, and it is generally accompanied by weakness and muscular exhaustion, which are not common in other bench press ailments.

2. Improper Form

shoulder pain while benching

One of the most subtle yet prevalent causes of shoulder discomfort during the bench press is poor grip width, with both too narrow and too broad hand placements along the barbell, placing the shoulders in a perilous position that may result in pain and damage if too much resistance is applied therein.

Hands should be placed around one and a half to double the shoulders’ width apart. However, this is a very individual matter because all exercisers have varied physiological proportions and levels of mobility.

1. Elbows flared out

Flaring, or adduction of the elbows away from the sides of the body, is another primary source of shoulder soreness during the bench press. In a correct bench press repetition, the exerciser’s elbows should be as near to the sides of the exercise as feasible, with grip width, bar touch point, and arm length defining how flared the elbows may be safe on a case-by-case basis.

Suppose the exerciser has shoulder discomfort in the posterior deltoid head or rotator cuff. In that case, they may vary the amount to which their elbows are flared to get a more favorable position for their shoulders.

Other circumstances, such as an extremely narrow grip width or lowering the bar too low along the torso, can contribute to unintended over-flaring of the elbows, both of which will push the elbows to migrate away from the torso in order to prevent dislocation or other injuries.

2. Unstable Foundation

The spot along the torso where the barbell makes contact when the exerciser lowers it during the eccentric part of the bench press can also cause substantial shoulder discomfort because it causes twisting throughout the ball and socket joint of the shoulder – specifically the labrum in most cases.

The precise contact point of the bar will depend on the exerciser’s comfortable hand placement and the amount to which their elbows are tucked during the action. Still, it is widely accepted to be between the bottom of the pecs and the lower half of the sternum.

An incorrect touch point or an unstable foundation is usually just a symptom of other bench press mechanics being performed incorrectly. If the exerciser discovers that they cannot comfortably lower the bar to their chest without causing shoulder pain, it is recommended that they examine other aspects of their bench press as well.

3. Improper Recovery

The most common error individuals make is “wanting it” so badly that they overstrain it. It’s human nature; if we don’t see the results we want, the obvious remedy is to work more and harder.

Overtraining symptoms include a loss of desire, difficulty sleeping, poor diet, and a lack of development, such hurdle can be overcome by taking proteins like Bodylogix, BodyTech, Ascent Protein, etc. and having enough rest after the workout also helps.

4. Joint Fixation

The human body is an incredible mechanism. Whatever you throw at it will adjust, and you learn to deal with it. Keeping your body guessing, shifting things up, and adding diversity to your exercises help assure a favorable response. Stay one step ahead by varying your exercises and achieving your desired results.

For a few weeks, try dropping the reps on your bench press sets to six to eight repetitions. If you can avoid these frequent errors and are willing to try new things, you’ll soon be bench-pressing more than you ever imagined possible.

How To Eliminate Shoulder Pain While Benching

There’s a good chance you or someone you’ve met at the gym who has lifted weights for a while has dealt with shoulder discomfort. This might result from improper form, muscular imbalances like weakness or stiffness, or inappropriate muscle activation patterns. The training program’s exuberant advancement can also play a role.

 1. Alter Your Grip Width

To alleviate your shoulder soreness, consider adjusting the breadth of your grip. This makes bench pressing more pleasant by assisting in the weight transfer from delicate components. The ideal method for adjusting grip width is to start with a small grasp and gradually broaden it as you learn what suits your body type the most.

As you gauge your comfort level with the press, start by moving your hands half an inch. A big part of managing shoulder discomfort is determining what exact movements will and won’t trigger a pain reaction. For many people, switching to a neutral grip instead of the standard overhand grip quickly resolves everything.

Modify your grip by moving it just slightly outside your shoulders. To keep your elbows close to your body, you may do this while maintaining the most comfortable posture for your shoulder blades.

2. Keep Your Shoulder Blades Retracted

While bench pressing, shoulder discomfort can be very severe if the shoulder blades are not retracted. In this instance, the safest technique to execute bench presses and improve performance is to maintain your shoulder blades locked during retraction.

Any large lift requires a lot of force, and the more compact and tight the lifter can be, the more force it can produce. Because the shoulders and elbows are the main joints used in the bench press, keeping the shoulder blades retracted reduces stress on these joints and improves their ability to lift the weight. Therefore, keeping the shoulder blades in makes them safer and more efficient.

To learn how to retract your shoulder blades properly, grasp an exercise band and draw it apart in front of you until you feel strain in your shoulder blades. Don’t hold your arms too high or too low; make sure their level is the same as during a bench press.

When setting up and doing the press, you should feel it in your back as you would when pulling apart an exercise band. Maintain a downward and backward shoulder girdle. Your shoulder joint will remain more stable if you keep your shoulder blades down and back. Over time, this will translate into pain-free weightlifting.

3. Try A Low Incline Bench Press

Your shoulder ache during bench pressing might be lessened by using a modest inclination. By bending your back slightly, you may increase the amount of weight your chest can support while sparing your shoulder joints. This can help you avoid feeling the bench press on your chest and protect your shoulder from the impact of your exercises.

A 10 to 30-degree elevation on the bench is considered a minor incline for the purpose of making the bench press more shoulder-friendly. This is around one level higher than the typical adjustable bench.

4. Increase Overhead Pressing Volume

Too much bench pressing is frequently the cause of shoulder problems. The best approach to completing your lifts is in this manner, but it must be properly balanced with other workouts, such as overhead pressing.

In order to keep the shoulder joints balanced and lessen the severe shoulder discomfort experienced during bench pressing, additional overhead pressing exercises are also appropriate. Increasing the volume of your overhead press in your training program has various advantages.

Standing overhead pressing exercises can strengthen your core muscles like your obliques, transverse abdominal muscles, lower back, spinal stabilizers, and shoulder, triceps, and trapezius muscles. They can also increase the size and strength of your shoulder, triceps, and trapezius muscles.

Final Thoughts

Improper form, muscular imbalances, or overexercising can cause shoulder soreness. Adjust the breadth of your bench press grip to alleviate shoulder soreness.

Adopting a neutral hold instead of the standard overhand grip quickly resolves everything. While bench pressing, shoulder discomfort can be very severe if the shoulder blades are not retracted. Your shoulder joint will remain stable if your shoulder girdle is kept backward and downward.

Over time, this will translate into pain-free weightlifting. A 10 to 30-degree incline on the bench is considered a minor incline for the purpose of making the bench press more shoulder-friendly. Standing overhead and pressing can strengthen your core muscles and increase the size and strength of your shoulder, triceps, and trapezius muscles.

 Frequently Asked Questions

It can take up to six weeks for damage from bench press injuries to heal, which is why it’s critical to warm up, practice proper form, and focus on sustained muscle growth rather than attempting quick alterations that could put you in danger of harm.

Recurrent discomfort, especially with certain activities, pain that prevents you from resting on your affected side, grunting or crackling sounds when moving your arm, and muscular weakness that limits your arm’s range of motion are all signs of a torn rotator cuff.

Recurrent discomfort, especially with certain activities, pain that prevents you from resting on your affected side, grunting or crackling sounds when moving your arm, and muscular weakness that limits your arm’s range of motion are all signs of a torn rotator cuff.

Although rotator cuff injuries cannot heal independently without surgery, many patients can benefit functionally and have less discomfort with nonsurgical therapy by building up their shoulder muscles.

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