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How to Fix Shoulder Pain from Bench Press

shoulder press pain


Shoulder pain from bench press is a common complaint among individuals in the fitness industry—especially those who incorporate bench press into their routines. The bench press is a staple exercise in strength training that targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps. However, it can lead to significant shoulder discomfort or injury when not performed correctly or when underlying issues are present. 

Recognizing the symptoms and causes of painful shoulders is essential for anyone looking to improve their bench press performance while maintaining shoulder health. This blog aims to guide you through understanding the common causes of shoulder pain after bench press, identifying the source of your discomfort, and implementing strategies to fix or prevent it.

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain in Bench Pressing

Incorrect Form

Improper form is a leading cause of shoulder pain bench press. Incorrect elbow positioning, failure to retract the shoulder blade, or an improper grip width can place unnecessary stress on the shoulder joints. This can lead to joint pain and injury over time. Ensuring proper form is a crucial first step in preventing shoulder discomfort.

Excessive Weight

Lifting heavy weights beyond what your muscles can safely handle hampers progress and increases the risk of shoulder injuries. A heavy load can compromise your form and pressure the shoulder joints. This can lead to excessive strain or more serious joint injuries.

Lack of Mobility and Flexibility

Limited range of motion in the shoulders can significantly impact your ability to perform the bench press correctly. Tight muscles and restricted joint mobility force the body to compensate in ways that can lead to pain during bench press.

Muscular Imbalances

An imbalance between the shoulder muscles used in bench pressing and their opposing muscle groups can lead to shoulder issues. For instance, overdeveloped chest muscles coupled with weak back muscles can pull the shoulders forward, creating a posture that predisposes individuals to achy pain and injuries.

Repetitive Overuse

Frequent bench pressing without adequate rest and recovery can lead to overuse injuries, such as rotator cuff bench press. The shoulder joint, being one of the most mobile and complex joints in the body, is particularly susceptible to wear and tear from repetitive motions.

How to Identify the Source of Your Shoulder Pain

Identifying the cause of shoulder pain requires a combination of self-assessment and professional evaluation. Research has found that 36% of injuries in the lifting population occur at the shoulder complex, highlighting the vulnerability of this area during exercises like the bench press. Pay attention to when the pain occurs: during the bench press exercise, immediately after, or as a persistent ache. Note any specific movements that worsen the pain, as this can provide clues to its source. 

Consulting with a physical therapist or a certified personal trainer who can assess your bench press form, mobility, and muscle balance can be invaluable in pinpointing the issue. This statistical insight underscores the importance of not overlooking shoulder discomfort and seeking expert advice to prevent further injury.

Importance of Warm-Up Exercises To Prepare The Shoulder Joint

Importance of Warm-Up Exercises To Prepare The Shoulder Joint

Preventive Measures

Warm-up exercises are critical in preparing the shoulder joint for the stresses of bench pressing. Dynamic stretches and movements that mimic the bench press motion can increase blood flow, enhance mobility, and reduce the risk of common injury. Exercises such as arm circles, resistance band pull-aparts, and light rotator cuff exercises can effectively warm up the shoulders.    

Incorporating Mobility and Flexibility Exercises into Your Routine

Incorporating mobility and flexibility exercises into your routine can significantly improve shoulder health. Exercises that enhance the range of motion, such as shoulder stretches, yoga poses like the downward dog, or mobility drills with exercise bands, can help maintain healthy shoulder function and prevent pain.

Importance Of Balanced Training To Prevent Muscle Imbalances

Balanced training that includes exercises for all muscle groups is crucial for preventing muscular imbalances that can lead to shoulder pain.

  • Muscle Symmetry: Achieving muscle symmetry reduces the risk of bench press injuries by ensuring equal strength across the body.
  • Joint Stability: Strengthening the muscles around the shoulder joint enhances stability, reducing the likelihood of dislocations and other injuries.
  • Prevention of Injuries: A balanced workout regimen can prevent the overuse of any single muscle group, thereby reducing the risk of future injuries.
  • Improved Posture and Stability: Strengthening both the anterior and posterior chains of the body contributes to better posture and stability, which is crucial for a healthy shoulder function.
  • Enhanced Performance: A well-balanced upper body performs better, not only in bench pressing but in all physical activities.
  • Neuromuscular Coordination: Balanced training improves the coordination between muscles and the nervous system, enhancing movement efficiency and reducing the risk of pain.

Post-Workout Recovery Strategies

A comprehensive approach to post-workout recovery is important for anyone experiencing bench press shoulder pain. Effective recovery not only aids in the repair of damaged tissues but also ensures that your shoulders remain healthy and strong in the long run. Let’s delve into some key recovery strategies:

Adequate Rest

Rest plays a pivotal role in the recovery process. It’s during periods of rest that your body repairs the micro-tears in muscle fibers caused by intense exercise. For the shoulders, this means allowing enough downtime between bench press sessions to prevent overuse injuries. Ideally, incorporate rest before targeting the same muscle groups again intensely.


Staying hydrated is crucial for adequate recovery. Water supports various bodily functions, including nutrient transport and temperature regulation. Adequate hydration helps ensure that the muscles receive the nutrients they need to recover and can also reduce muscle soreness after workouts. Aim to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day, more if your workout intensity or environmental conditions increase your sweat rate.

Proper Nutrition

Nutrition is the foundation of muscle repair and growth. Consuming a balanced diet rich in proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals supports the body’s healing process. Focus on protein-rich foods, such as lean meats, fish, dairy, and legumes, to aid in muscle repair. Carbohydrates are also essential for replenishing glycogen stores, while healthy fats support overall health. Don’t forget about micronutrients; vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, D, and Zinc play crucial roles in proper recovery and immune function.

Recovery Techniques

  • Foam Rolling: This form of self-myofascial release can help reduce muscle tightness and improve flexibility. For shoulder pain, gently rolling the upper back, pecs, and deltoids can release tension and promote blood flow to the area.
  • Massage Therapy: A professional massage therapist can significantly aid recovery by increasing circulation, reducing muscle soreness, and promoting relaxation. Focus on areas that support the shoulder, such as the back, chest, and arms, for comprehensive benefits.

Active Recovery

Active recovery involves performing low-intensity exercise that stimulates blood flow to the muscles without placing additional stress on them. For the shoulders, this could mean light mobility work, stretching, or engaging in activities like walking or swimming. These exercises can help maintain joint mobility and muscle flexibility, reducing stiffness and aiding in overall recovery.

Mobility and Flexibility Sessions

Dedicated sessions focusing on improving shoulder mobility and flexibility can prevent future pain and injuries. Incorporate stretches and mobility exercises targeting the shoulders, chest, and upper back into your recovery days. Yoga or Pilates can also be beneficial in enhancing flexibility and core strength, which supports shoulder stability.

Shoulder pain from bench press? Max Performance Therapy can assist.

Shoulder pain from bench press? Max Performance Therapy can assist.

For those struggling with shoulder pain from bench pressing, seeking the assistance of Max Physical Therapy can be a game-changer. Our Professional therapists can provide targeted treatments and rehabilitation programs designed to address the root cause of your pain, ensuring a quicker and more effective recovery.

These performance physical therapy fitness programs are not just about treating the pain but also about conditioning your body for bench pressing, focusing on weight training, flexibility, and stability in the muscles and joints involved. This holistic approach ensures that you can return to bench pressing with a stronger, more resilient body, minimizing the risk of future injuries.


Addressing shoulder pain from bench pressing requires a multifaceted approach that includes proper technique, balanced training, and effective recovery strategies. By understanding the common causes of shoulder pain and implementing preventive and corrective measures, you can continue to bench press safely and effectively without shoulder press pain. Always listen to your body and consult with professionals when necessary to ensure the health and longevity of your shoulder joints.


How long does it take to recover from bench press shoulder injury?

Recovery time can vary depending on the severity of the injured shoulder, ranging from a few weeks for minor strains to several months for more serious conditions. Adhering to a rehabilitation program and gradually returning to activity is crucial for a full recovery.

How long does a rotator cuff take to heal?

A rotator cuff injury involving the group of muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder can take anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks to several months to heal, depending on its severity. Consistent rehabilitation exercises that are designed to strengthen and improve the flexibility of the rotator cuff muscles, along with proper care, are essential for healing.

Should I exercise my rotator cuff if it hurts?

Yes, but with caution. Gentle, low-impact rotator cuff exercises can help maintain mobility and strength during recovery. However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider to ensure these exercises are appropriate for your specific condition.

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