Hitting the chest is one of the best parts of some people’s workouts but life doesn’t give them this good feeling always sometimes you get shoulder pain from the bench press. It’s also one of the most common pain a weightlifter can face and it can affect their workout so in time it can get irritating.
Bench press has been around for a long time and it will be because it is a go-to exercise for the person that is trying to gain muscle and develop overall strength. So shoulder pain from bench press can forbid you from including such a beneficial exercise in your workout. Don’t go ahead thinking that bench press is harmful to you, any exercise done with improper form will lead you to injury making every exercise harmful to you.
In this article I will not write about the mistakes to avoid, I will be writing about how to treat the shoulder pain from bench press and get back into the game.
What causes the pain?
The most common cause of shoulder pain from bench press is the excessive strain that was put onto your shoulder rotator cuff muscles. The job of the rotator cuff in the bench press is to act as a stabilizer meaning responsible for lowering the bar and restricting any ineffective movement caused. The rotator cuff is the secondary muscle involved in the bench press but when the bench press is performed with bad form, imbalance muscle, not warming up or excessive weight, the pressure keeps building up on your stabilizers too which might eventually strain you your rotator cuff.
A rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that consist of Subscapularis, Infraspinatus, Teres minor, and Supraspinatus. All these muscles are attached to your shoulder and can be the source of your shoulder pain. After you injure your rotator cuff you may experience soreness in your shoulder accompanied by a limit in mobility.
Now you’re already experiencing pain and you also know what might be caused shoulder pain after bench press but the past can’t be changed however these 4 exercises/stretches will help you improve your shoulder pain and aid in faster recovery.
Exercises/stretches to treat shoulder pain from bench press
First of all, you need to take a good 2-3 weeks break from weight lifting at least for the upper body, you can have a light lower body workout only till your rotator cuffs aren’t involved.
Applying a pack of ice 2-3 times a day for at least 10 to 20 minutes and also try taking anti-inflammatory meds that will help you relieve pain. So as you’re recovering nicely and can do some shoulder movement only then you’re allowed to do these exercises/stretches otherwise being greedy might lead to even greater injury that will put you on the sidelines for months. For that reason recovery part is necessary.
Shoulder and back injury is more serious than they may look, ignoring such injuries will just leave you exposed to future fatal injuries. So let us get started with a recovery exercise for shoulder pain. All these shoulder stretches/exercises are to be done when you have recovered and it doesn’t cause you any pain to do some heavy movement in the shoulder. If it still pains I would suggest you should stick with some basic shoulder stretchings.
- Side Shoulder Raises
In the beginning, we’ll only focus on increasing your shoulder mobility that was gone due to shoulder pain from bench press. The main focus of the exercise/stretch would be to help you bring your arm up to shoulder level. If you feel any pain you should avoid doing these stretches and take a little more rest. Grab your resistance band or a lightweight dumbbell.
How to do
- Stand straight, roll your shoulder blades towards the back it will look like pinching from the shoulder.
- Take one end of the resistance band and step on it, hold the opposite end of the band with your arm.
- Lift your arm, it should not be facing the same direction as your chest neither it should be lateral, make a 45 to 60-degree angle.
- Stop pulling the band once you reach shoulder height.
- Once you get used to this movement, try doing lateral raises where you will bring your arms to the side.
2. External rotation
This exercise also focuses on increasing your range of motion. It’s a simple exercise, quite easy to do. A little discomfort is ok but as soon as you feel any pain, stop. This exercise is also one of my favorites when it comes to getting rid of shoulder pain from the bench press.
How to do
- Either you can stand straight or lay down on the yoga mat or ground.
- Pull back your shoulder blades. Grab a lightweight dumbbell in the injured hand.
- Bring the elbow of the injured arm close to the ribs and place a towel between your elbow and abdomen.
- Now as your wrist is facing the same direction as your chest bring them to the sides while your elbow keeps pressing on the towel and back.
3. Towel pull
While suffering from rotator cuff injury, after inflammation our internal rotation gets limited. This exercise/stretch will focus on that increasing range of motion for this exercise you need a resistance band or towel will also do the work. I would advise against using a light weighted dumbbell instead use a towel.
How to do
- Hold one end of the towel or resistance band with the injured shoulder and let that towel drop like you’re doing a single-arm triceps extension.
- As the other end of the towel is hanging around your back, grab its other end with an uninjured hand.
- Now pull the towel towards the ceiling with the injured arm and in doing so you will be dragging your other arm which will create some resistance
4. 90-degree shoulder rotation to overhead press
If you have access to the resistant band that is great, otherwise a light weighted dumbbell will also do the trick. This exercise will focus on bringing your shoulder mobility back to normal. This exercise is supposed to be pain-free but if you may experience mild discomfort that is acceptable but not pain.
How to do
- Stand straight, let your shoulder blades roll back like pinching.
- Take one end of the resistance band and step on it.
- Hold the other end of the resistance band with your injured arm.
- Your elbow and forearm should be parallel with the floor, this is starting position.
- Rotate your shoulder till your elbow and forearms become parallel to the wall in front of you, now skyrocket your wrist to the ceiling.
- Do at least 6 to 8 times for each arm.
5. Sword pull
Don’t worry, you don’t have to literally pull out a heavy metal sword just like the above stretches this exercise can be done with the help of a resistance band or a lightweight dumbbell. This exercise will also focus on leveling up your shoulder mobility. This is a beginner-level exercise but when it comes to treating shoulder pain from bench press, it’s good. Again if you feel mild discomfort that’s okay but if it’s pain then you should avoid doing these stretches.
How to do
- Stand straight, again let your shoulder roll back like pinching.
- Take one end of the resistance band either you can step on it(if doing with the right arm, step with the left foot) or keep holding it with your other arm.
- Now hold the other end of the resistance band and pull it towards the sky like you are pulling the sword out from the side of your waist. Do at least 6 to 10 pulls for each arm.
- Once done with one arm do the same for another arm.
All these exercises/stretches will help you recover faster and your shoulder pain from bench press will be gone. Till you recover you can try other basic physical activities such as different types of walking, cycling, and even once you recover that doesn’t mean that you can go ahead and start lifting heavy again, you have to work your way up the ladder again.
Try including after-workout stretching at the end of your session that way you will recover your muscles faster and they will also act as a catalyst in your muscle building. Next time lift with proper form and without lifting more than you can handle, I hope this article helped you bring an end to shoulder pain from the bench press.