How many times have you gotten done benching or doing push ups, and felt that nasty ache right in the front of your shoulder?
If you feel like your only option is to ditch these exercises all together, stick with me because I’m going to show you why it’s happening and how you can get it to go away…for good so you can go back to hitting that big weight.
WHY BENCH PRESSING OR PUSH UPS CAUSE SHOULDER PAIN
That nasty pinch or ache right in the front of your shoulder is the result of you asking your shoulder to do something it doesn’t have the prerequisite for.
The motion of a bench press, push up or anything that falls into the horizontal pressing category, requires a substantial amount of both internal and external rotation.
When you’re holding that bar over your chest with your arms locked out, the shoulder begins in external rotation.
As you descend, the shoulder starts to rotate internally. The deeper you go, the more internal rotation that is required.
If you lack either of these rotational ranges of motion, the body will still figure out a way to accomplish the task, but there will be consequences. If you’re reading this blog, then you’ve already started to feel those consequences.
HOW MOST TRY TO AVOID SHOULDER PAIN WHILE BENCHING OR DOING PUSH UPS
We’ve all done it. It’s bench day, and your shoulder feels a little funky bringing the bar all the way down to your chest or as you're doing a push up, when you get down to the floor. You’re not going to stop benching or doing push ups, so what do you do?
You stop about 1-2 inches above your chest or halfway down in the push up because your shoulder feels fine there. The reason this doesn’t hurt is because as I mentioned above, the deeper you go the more internal rotation required.
So if you’re limited in your shoulder range, this seems like a brilliant idea like “I can still get all the benefits of benching or push ups without my shoulder hurting…yeah!”
Not so fast my friends…
WHY ADJUSTING YOUR TECHNIQUE WON’T HELP
I know you think you’ve solved all of your problems by adjusting the exercise ever so slightly. However, if you’re not working on increasing your rotational ranges of motion, this new adjustment will eventually stop working.
I’ve seen it a million times, and it happened to me as well. You first start out by limiting your depth. Then eventually, no matter how little you go down the shoulder starts to ache again. And then you switch to only dumbbell pressing. Once again, you start to limit your depth as this starts to piss your shoulder off as well.
Now all versions of the dumbbell press start to hurt so you switch to a multi-grip bar where your palms face inward towards each other. This works for a little while until the same story happens.
You see where I’m going with this, right?
One day you run out of modifications that don’t hurt your shoulder and now it hurts no matter what you’re doing.
HOW TO RELIEVE SHOULDER PAIN FROM BENCHING OR PUSH UPS
Before you get to this point of no return, you must increase your shoulder rotation ranges of motion.
I’m not saying you have to give up your presses, quite the contrary. The key is to find an exercise and appropriate depth that doesn’t cause discomfort all while working on your shoulder mobility in the background. That’s the key.
This is what I teach you how to do in the Healthy Shoulders 10 Day Challenge. You’ll get my sticky shoulders solution to relieve pain so you can save your shoulders and continue to crush bench or push ups.
And, you can find two great alternatives for the bench press while you work on that shoulder mobility HERE.
ABOUT COACH MATT PIPPIN
Matt is a Strength and Mobility Coach with over 15 years experience in his field and has coached over a thousand professional, collegiate and everyday athletes with the goal to help them move, feel and perform at their highest level. He's incredibly passionate about bringing simple and effective online mobility training programs to everyone who wants to take control of their self care and make lasting change. CLICK HERE to learn more.
NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Level 3: Fascial Stretch Specialist
Level 1: Institute of Motion Health Coach
Certified FRC Mobility Specialist (FRCms)
Level 1 Kinstretch Instructor
Weck Method Qualified