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How to Bench Press Around Pain

shoulderpain strengthtraining weighttraining Mar 01, 2022

The bench press is one of the best exercises for chest, shoulder, and triceps development. The bench press is also one of the best exercises to help improve upper body strength, performance, and overall health. That’s why the bench press is a staple exercise in 90% of all programs. Because it’s such a great exercise, it can be a huge bummer when we can’t bench press because of shoulder pain. Luckily, there are a lot of ways we can continue to train the bench press movement despite having shoulder pain. Here are some ways to modify this movement so that you can continue to train:

 

1. Change your grip width: Adopting a narrower grip can help shift some of the stresses more towards the triceps and can help people with shoulder pain perform the movement more comfortably. While this change in grip can help a lot of people, others find greater comfort in adopting a wider grip. Feel free to experiment with a few different grip widths and use the one that is most comfortable for you.

 

2. Modify the range of motion: Rather than performing the bench press with full range of motion (going all the way up and all the way down), you can perform a partial range bench press where you only go halfway down or as low as you feel comfortable. This can be accomplished through a board press, a bench press off of pins, or by simply not bringing the bar all the way down to your chest. 

 

Barbell Bench Press with Partial Range 

 

Barbell Bench Press with Board

 

3. Lighten the weight: This one can be tough for most. Lowering the weight can hit the ego for some but can also be one of the most powerful ways to get back to bench pressing without pain. The goal is to temporarily take a step back, and then gradually increase the weight over time as your shoulder starts to feel better. 1 step back, 2 steps forward!

 

4. Slow the tempo: Slowing down a movement can help someone feel more comfortable with a movement, work on specific ranges of motion that are symptomatic, and allow people to have a greater sense of control throughout the movement. Oftentimes someone’s shoulder can hurt when performing a fast movement but might feel good while performing  a slow movement. The same can be said for isometric holds. Performing holds can be a great way to work on specific portions of the bench press and can also help with pain relief.

 

5. Switch to a similar movement: If all else fails, you can switch to a similar movement that still works similar muscle groups. Some examples include the floor press, landmine press, chest fly, and overhead press. Over time, you can start to slowly add the bench press back in and reintegrate that into your program.

 

Floor Press - Dumbbell

 

Landmine Press - Single Arm

 

Chest Fly - Dumbbell 

 

Overhead Press - Dumbbell

 

 

Need Help?

If you’re a little overwhelmed with the options available when it comes to improving your bench press - then we can help. Click here to schedule a free Discovery Visit with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy, or reach out to us at anytime at (760) 301-6566 or at [email protected]  

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