Effective Techniques to Bench Press Without Shoulder Pain: Causes & Prevention

shoulder pain causes

Maintaining physical fitness and health is a cornerstone of longevity and quality of life. Regular exercise fights a variety of illnesses and ailments in addition to aiding with weight control. It can also improve moods, boost energy levels, and promote better sleep. Furthermore, staying active has been found to delay or even prevent chronic illnesses and diseases associated with aging.

Many individuals turn to the gym as their chosen venue for getting fit and building muscle mass through weightlifting and other forms of exercise. While these activities can be highly beneficial, they also carry the potential risk of injury. Muscle pain, joint discomfort, and other ailments can arise from the improper use of gym equipment.

One such piece of equipment that often results in discomfort when used incorrectly is the bench press. This classic weightlifting tool is a staple in strength training routines across the globe. However, misuse can lead to shoulder pain, a common complaint among gymgoers.

The Bench Press and Its Potential Risks for Shoulder Health

The bench press is a fundamental exercise in strength training, primarily focusing on the pectoral muscles but also engaging the shoulders and triceps. While it’s an excellent tool for building upper body strength, incorrect use or overuse can potentially lead to discomfort or even injury in the shoulder area.

Understanding the potential risks associated with the bench press can help you avoid unnecessary pain or injury. Here are some ways the bench press can lead to shoulder pain or injury:

Incorrect Grip

Using a grip that is too wide or too narrow can place additional stress on the shoulder joints. This can lead to strain and discomfort and, over time, potentially result in more serious injuries.

Improper Form

Incorrect form during a bench press, such as lifting your back off the bench or not keeping your feet firmly planted, can shift the load onto your shoulders. This improper distribution of weight can cause undue stress on the shoulder joints, leading to pain and injury.


Performing the bench press too frequently without adequate rest can lead to overuse injuries. Over time, this can cause wear and tear on the shoulder joints, resulting in pain and potentially long-term damage.

Pre-existing Injuries

If you have a pre-existing shoulder injury, the bench press could potentially aggravate it. It’s important to seek medical advice before performing exercises like the bench press if you have a history of shoulder issues.

Lack of Warm-Up

Skipping the warm-up phase can lead to stiff and unprepared muscles and joints, which can increase the risk of injury during strenuous exercises like the bench press.

Rapid Weight Increases

Increasing the weight too quickly without giving your body time to adapt can put excessive strain on the shoulder joints, leading to potential injuries.

Prevention of Shoulder Pain from Bench Press

Fortunately, shoulder pain resulting from the bench press can be prevented. This involves:

Proper Warm-Up

Engaging in a proper warm-up routine is the first step towards a safe and effective workout. This could include light cardio exercises to increase heart rate and blood flow, thereby preparing your muscles for the upcoming physical activity. Specific exercises like scapular retractions and push-ups can help warm up the shoulder muscles and joints, reducing the risk of injury during bench press.

Correct Bench Press Form

The importance of correct form cannot be overstated when performing a bench press. Your back should be flat on the bench, your feet should be firmly planted on the ground, providing stability, and your grip should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart to ensure that the weight is evenly distributed across your upper body.

Engage Your Legs

It might seem odd to think about your legs during a bench press, but engaging them can actually help protect your shoulders. By creating a stable base with your feet firmly planted on the ground, you can reduce undue stress on the shoulder joints and maintain better control over movement.

Gradual Weight Increase

Patience is key in weightlifting. Avoid the temptation to lift heavier weights too quickly. Gradual increases give your muscles and joints time to adapt, thereby reducing the risk of injury.

Regular Rest

Just as important as the workouts themselves, rest periods are essential for muscle recovery and growth. Overworking your muscles can lead to fatigue and increase the chance of injury. Make sure you’re giving your body adequate rest between workouts.

Balanced Training

A well-rounded workout routine is essential for overall muscle development and injury prevention. Focusing too much on one area or muscle group can lead to imbalances, which could result in injury. Incorporate exercises for all major muscle groups into your routine.

Seek Professional Guidance

If you’re new to weightlifting or unsure about your form, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from a fitness professional. They can provide personalized advice based on your body type and fitness goals, ensuring you’re performing exercises correctly and safely.

Listen to Your Body

Pain is your body’s way of signaling that something isn’t right. If you start experiencing pain during or after bench presses, don’t ignore it. Stop the exercise immediately and rest. If the pain persists, it’s important to seek medical advice.

Medical Intervention

If pain persists despite taking all these precautions, medical intervention may be necessary. Treatments can include anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and pain, ice application to soothe the affected area, and, in some cases, physiotherapy to restore range of motion and strength.

The Importance of Gym Equipment Knowledge

In the realm of fitness and health, understanding how to properly use gym equipment is not just a recommendation; it’s a necessity. It acts as the cornerstone for preventing injuries, maximizing workout effectiveness, and ensuring your overall safety during each training session.

Misuse or mishandling of gym equipment can lead to unnecessary strain on your muscles and joints. This undue stress can result in discomfort, pain, and potentially even serious injuries. These setbacks can interrupt your training routine, slow down your progress, and impact your overall quality of life.

Take the bench press, for instance. It’s a common piece of equipment found in nearly every gym, offering tremendous benefits for upper-body strength when used correctly. However, without proper knowledge and form, it can quickly become a source of shoulder pain and injury.

That’s why it’s crucial to have a thorough understanding of each piece of equipment you use. Knowing the correct form, understanding the targeted muscle groups, and being aware of common mistakes can go a long way in ensuring a safe and effective workout.

So before you embark on your next workout, take the time to familiarize yourself with your equipment. Learn about its function, understand the correct form, and ensure you’re using it safely. Remember, in the gym, knowledge isn’t just power—it’s protection. Equip yourself with the right information to safeguard your health, maximize your workouts, and continue on your journey to achieving your fitness goals.

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