Shoulder pain is one of the most common workout injuries that get in the way of you making gains, especially in your chest.
In the following video, you will learn how to change the way you are doing the bench press regardless of what type of shoulder pain you are experiencing so you do not have to give up the chest gains.
First, it helps to understand the general types of shoulder injuries that can be the source of your pain. You can either have an injury to the labrum (and often times biceps tendon as well due to the proximity of it to the labrum), rotator cuff, bursitis, impingement, or the AC joint. Each of these has their own characteristic symptoms that slightly differentiate it from the other however it is best to have your shoulder evaluated in person by a qualified physical therapist for an exact diagnosis.
When it comes to working out with a shoulder injury it can be really tough. The fact that your shoulder joint is so mobile and intimately involved with all upper body exercises makes it tough to train around unless you know how to do it. The bench press is a staple exercise for building a bigger chest and is one that also happens to be very difficult to perform once shoulder pain or injury has set in. That said, there are tweaks you can make to the movement that makes it possible for you to start doing it again and not have it aggravate your symptoms. In fact, it could help to make your shoulder pain go away as you build it back stronger than ever.
When you look at the AC joint injury you have to understand that it is caused mostly by forced internal rotation (especially with some velocity). This can happen when you target too low on your chest or forget to arch your back and bring the ribcage to the bar rather than forcing the bar to seek out the ribcage. If you adjust the cage up by arching the back and dropping the shoulders back you can not only fix the targeting of the bar on the chest but you can effectively shorten the depth and keep your shoulders more secure.
With a labrum tear, you are likely to have a greatly compromised shoulder stability. This becomes especially bothersome when you experience the pain at the bottom of the press. Here you are not only dealing with the most instability but you are also putting the biceps tendon on the most stretch because of the arm extending behind your body. This causes pain either way. The key is to temporarily switch to a floor press to have a more equal base of support for your shoulder.
The rest of the issues tend to revolve around one common outcome and that is the impingement that can occur in your shoulder from bench pressing. Here the goal is to create as much room as you can in the shoulder joint when doing the exercise. You can depress your shoulders which will deactivate the traps and create more room in the joint. You can alter the position of the elbows to be closer to your body which will do the same thing. Finally, you can switch the grip from overhand to underhand to make sure you are externally rotating your shoulders and creating a room as well.
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