Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Bench Press Shoulder Pain

Do you feel pain on your shoulder when doing bench press? Benching is one of the best exercises that you can perform when it comes to gaining muscle mass and boosting strength. However, bench press shoulder pain has become a common occurrence.

In fact, it is one of the most annoying things that weightlifters have to deal with. Despite that, this nuisance doesn't outweigh the benefits of doing a bench press.

With that in mind, the least that we can do is found a way to work around or address this issue. In this article, we will discover all the essential things we need to know about bench press shoulder pain.

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What is Bench Shoulder Impingement?

The shoulder pain you feel during the bench press is more commonly caused by shoulder impingement.

How does shoulder impingement take place? To understand this, we need first to take a look at our anatomy, particularly our rotator cuff. This is comprised of a group of tendons and muscles that are responsible for attaching the bone of your upper arm to your shoulder. The rotator cuff is located at the top of your shoulder, which is called the acromion.

Shoulder Impingement

Via: sportnova.co.uk

When you lift your arm while doing bench press, the space between the rotator cuff and acromion gets narrow. This causes unwanted pressure, which irritates your rotator cuff. The irritation of your rotator cuff causes shoulder impingement.

The following symptoms characterize shoulder impingement:

  • Mild yet constant pain in the shoulder area
  • Weakness in your arms and shoulders
  • Pain that radiates from the front part of the shoulder to the side of the arms
  • Shoulder pain that gets worse at night
  • Pain when you move your arms around
  • Pain when you reach over your head or behind your back

Why Do You Feel Sharp Shoulder Pain when Bench Pressing?

Male Muscle Growth - Bench Press

Shoulder impingement doesn't necessarily mean that you have an injury. However, the pain that it may bring can be quite annoying and may sometimes prevent you from performing specific regular tasks. But when left neglected, shoulder impingement can lead to an injury.

To prevent this, you recommend that you pinpoint why you feel shoulder pain when you do the bench press. Here are the possible reasons:

Bad/ Incorrect Form

Pain while working out is an indication that your form is incorrect. You may feel defensive about this, especially if you have been doing bench presses for decades. However, there are times when you already know what to do but still fail to execute what you know.

Because of this, we advise that you check your form. To make sure that your form correct, here are some pointers to keep in mind:

Retract your shoulder blades throughout the process.

Push your chest out and arch your upper back slightly.

During the descent, your bar should be touching at your nipple level. When going down, the bar should create a J-curve.

Keep your elbows stacked under the bar. If it isn't, you may want to adjust the grip width.

No Warm-up

If you've been bench pressing for too long, you may already feel too lazy to warm up. Don't give in to that laziness. Warm-ups are designed to minimize the risk of injury.

Before bench pressing, make sure to perform a proper warm-up routine. This includes 10-minute low-intensity cardio and different dynamic stretches.

Muscle Imbalances

Muscle imbalances are common even for weightlifters. By muscle imbalances, we mean that one type of muscle is weaker than the other. If you have weak lats, front and rear delts, you may feel shoulder pain during the bench press.

Why is this so? This is because your shoulders will try to compensate for the lack of strength of the other muscles. As a result, there will be more pressure on your shoulder joints, which causes pain.

Weak Rotator Cuff

As mentioned, your rotator cuff is the primary muscle group that works during a bench press, and this is the one that is affected during shoulder impingement that causes the pain. If you have a weak rotator cuff, there's a high chance that shoulder impingement will occur. The best way to avoid this is to strengthen your rotator cuff, and you can do this by performing rotator cuff resistance band exercises.

Front Shoulder Pain Bench Press Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some of the frequently asked questions about bench press shoulder pain:

1. How do I stop my shoulders from hurting when benching?

If you want to avoid bench press shoulder pain, you need to protect your shoulders. You can do this by following these tips

Engage your legs.

Not many of you would believe this, but a bench press is a full-body workout. If you want to remove the pressure from your shoulder, you should engage your lower body, especially your legs.


You can do this by spreading your feet wide and plant your feet firmly on the floor. When you start the rep, try to push through your feet when you lift the bar.

Narrow your grip.

When your grip is wide, your range of motion is limited. This places your shoulder in a vulnerable position. To protect your shoulders, narrow your grip.

2. Should you bench press with shoulder pain?

As much as possible, you shouldn't. If you feel something painful, especially in the shoulder area, you should stop bench pressing and try to figure out what you're doing wrong. In this way, you can address the problem early on.


If you keep on bench pressing with shoulder pain, there's a high chance that it will lead to injury.

3. How do you bench press with a bad shoulder?

If you have a bad shoulder, you shouldn't do bench presses. As much as possible, let your shoulder rest because if you keep pushing it to its limits, it may fail you during the press. This may lead to injury, which is a lot worse than a bad shoulder.


Once your shoulder is already okay, you can do bench press again, but this time, do it the right way or address any issues you may have had before so you can avoid having a bad shoulder again.

4. Does benching cause rotator cuff injury?

Benching, when done wrong, can undoubtedly cause rotator cuff injury. This is the reason why you need to make sure that you practice proper form when benching. More than that, you should also try to strengthen all the muscles that you use when bench pressing.

Final Words

There is no doubt that bench press, regardless if you do it in the gym or using a folding weight bench, is beneficial in growing and strengthening your muscles. However, it can be a big nuisance, especially if you experience bench press shoulder pain.

The good news is you can address this issue by following the tips that we have provided in this article.

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Emily Brathen
 

Hi there! I'm Emily Brathen. I am a fitness and yoga instructor and a mom of one. Despite my hectic schedule, I still find time for doing the thing I love most - fitness and yoga. I love doing and teaching fitness and yoga because in my own little way, I am able to encourage people to take health and fitness back into their own hands.

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