Torofy Blog

Depression and Heart Disease

Fix Your Shoulder Pain (BENCH PRESS!)


What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.com. Today I’m going to start a series that I think
is going to be one of the most helpful for you. That is, we know that there are certain combinations
of joints, and exercises that don’t really go that well together. Feel free to cringe along. If you’ve got bad knees and you’re doing leg
day. Not usually a good combination. Or if you’ve got bad shoulders and you’re
training your chest, or your shoulders. Or maybe a bad back on leg day, or a bad back
on back day. We’re going to get to all these, but today
I wanted to start with training your chest. More specifically, we’re going to go exercise
by exercise. Training your bench-press when you’ve got
a bad shoulder. Now I’m going to tell you this. One of the worst things you could do is not
exercise at all. As a matter of fact, because of the cycle
of breakdown, and how our tissues operate, and repair themselves, usually doing nothing
is going to lead to more weakness, which is going to make you more vulnerable, to even
additional breakdown, and then that cycle starts and you’re never able to get out of
it. So I want to show you how to identify – among
the various things that could go wrong in your shoulder – what’s going on in your
shoulder. Then, more importantly, what you can still
do, and how you can attack this exercise, and still benefit from it. If you haven’t noticed already, I’m holding
the muscle markers, I’m standing next to Raymond, we’re breaking out all the big guns to make
sure that you understand this, okay? So let’s get started. Okay, so we need to first identify ‘what are
some of the things that are going on?’ I’ll list them out for you right now. You’ve probably heard them before. You can have biceps tendonitis, usually happening
with a labrum, or a labrum tear. Next, you can have an impingement. That could be from bursitis, it could be from
a rotator cuff tendon – the supraspinatus – that gets inflamed, or it could be, if
it gets worse, you can get an actual tear of the rotator cuff tendon. Or we could have C-joint problem, or we can
actually have an SC-joint problem, which is both ends here of the clavicle. But let’s start pointing them all out. If I take out one of the muscle markers here,
let’s start with the labrum. The labrum is something I’ve actually had
to deal with. If I could, I’d like to stab myself right
in here, and go as far as I could deep because this pain is going to be deep, inside the
joint. But what you do feel a lot of times is, because
of the location here, the longhead of the bicep comes up, and attaches right to where
the labrum is. I’ll show you here on Raymond in a second. That is going to actually tend to get involved
because it’s pulling right in the same spot. So the labrum is inside the ball and socket,
it lines this to provide more of a suction, and to provide more stability, which is key. In a second I’ll tell you more about that. But it provides more stability for the shoulder. So when you do bench-press you’re going to
need that. Then the longhead of the bicep tendon is attaching
here too, up top. So the fact is, your pain – you’re going
to feel a lot times when you cross your arms, or cross your body – you’re going to feel
pain, and clicking when you use that arm, and lift that arm, and move it. And you’re going to feel instability a lot
of times when you have an injury there. That’s the first thing. The next one is that bursitis. Some of that impingement stuff. Things that are getting pinched inside the
joint, here. What we have is this subacromial space here,
underneath this bone, and you want to have as much room as you can in there so all the
structures, when the arm and everything is moving inside here, you want to be able to
move all that without getting things pinches into each other. So the bursae sits up here, first, about where
my finger is, and then underneath that is the rotator cuff tendon, which is the supraspinatus,
which goes underneath the bursae. So depending upon how long you’ve ignored
this problem, you either have bursitis that’s inflamed and causing some pain – again,
lots of different things can hurt. Putting your arm behind your back like this
can hurt it. Anything that will pinch it. Raising your arm up, over your head, or inside
an arc like this can cause a pinch at a certain range because you’re running out of space
here. So we want to make sure our shoulders are
in a good position when we’re benching, to try and help us with these problems. If you ignore it longer it can actually go
down into the supraspinatus tendon, which gets inflamed, and then if you ignore it even
longer than that it starts to become a tear. So that’s all occurring right at the end here,
right at the end of the bone that you can feel yourself. You can feel right where that ends. And all this stuff is going to be happening
right in this area, here. Again, if I let it go for too long it might
actually turn into a tear of the rotator cuff tendon where we start to get radiating pain
down here, into the delt. A lot of people thing they’ve strained their
delt when in actuality, they’ve probably got a rotator cuff issue going on that’s sending
pain down the arm. Then finally, we have the AC joint. Now you can actually see and feel – it’s
this bump, right here. Where your clavicle meets your acromion. Right at this joint here. We have the SC joint where the clavicle meets
your sternum. So you’ve got the two spots. In here, and more importantly, out here which
is a little bit higher. Here again, when you have a problem, when
you raise your arm up and you get all kinds of crunching, and popping, when you do bring
your arm across your body you’re feeling it here. You’re not feeling it like the labrum, deep
inside. Really, if I go back, behind my body and I
do this, and I try to raise my arm up, behind, I really feel discomfort and pain. Again, locally that spot there. So if you go through some of the motions yourself
and you can identify where some of your pain is that’s going to be a really big help. But if not, it’s going to probably reveal
itself as we get to the bench-press. So now, let’s get to the bench-press and see
what it is that’s causing your problem, and more importantly, what you can do to work
around it. All right, guys. Now that we’re on the bench-press, let’s start. We’ll pick one right off that bat. Well go with the AC joint because it’s the
most obvious. As I’ve said, you can look at it, you can
see the difference here. My past injury is still prominent, whereas
over here I never had one. So what we want to do is understand why it’s
happening. This is actually the one that can happen,
and occur on a single rep of a bench-press because what matters here most is the targeting
of the bar, and the depth of the bar. So we’ve been told that – and I told you
the other day – how when we press, we actually move at a natural pressing arc. We come down, and forward. We go up, and back. Down, and forward. Up, and back. Just like this. What people will also tell you is you’ll want
to target your chest. Some people tell you about targeting the bottom
of your chest. Others say to target your nipple line. Well, especially if you’re handling a weight
that you’re not that comfortable with, the more I target down – the lower on my chest
– you see what happens here? My shoulders – my forearms start to fall
inward. Down, toward my feet. That, exaggerated there, is what will pop
an AC joint, just like that. That force, that internal rotation force,
will pop the AC joint. So we know that if we already have that problem
we want to avoid that. So you need to fix your depth, you need to
fix your targeting. So first of all, don’t target the lower
chest. Try to target a little bit more in the mid-chest. Here’s a way we can do it. I always tell you how you want to get your
shoulders back, and arch your chest. You can do that by sticking your chest out
– that Superman, right? Pull it out, here, shoulders back, down, arch. Now what we’ve done is, I’ve brought my chest
up so now when the bar has to hit here, what I’m going to do is – the depth has been
fixed. I don’t have to go as low because I brought
my chest up. Instead of bringing my hands and having my
hands chase my ribcage – if it stays down, where my depth has to go now, put my shoulder
in this bad position – I actually have the ribcage come up to meet my hands so the depth
is actually taken care of, and the targeting is taken care of. So if you do that you’ll find that it’s a
lot easier to get this right without putting that AC joint in danger. Now the next thing. Let’s go with another one that’s fairly easy
to at least explain what’s going on. The labrum, which is something I’ve dealt
with. It’s not going to get better, guys. Once you tear it – especially how I have
a slap tear, which is a pretty significant, or long tear – the only thing you can do
is get a little bit smarter about how you train. But what is compromised here is stability. The reason why a bench-press can often times
cause some discomfort for you is you’ve lost the stability. So if I go back down here – remember, this
is the one deep down, inside that you’re going to feel. When I’m here, and I’m benching, what I’ve
got is, I’ve got the back of my shoulder here, on the bench, and that is pushing up, creating
support for the back of my shoulder here, on the bench. Basically, pushing up in this direction. My arms has the weight in it. My hand has the weight in it. That’s going back in this direction. So what we’re getting is this anterior dislocation
force. It’s a very uncomfortable thing. It feels like it could pop out. Especially if you feel the pain at the bottom
of your rep. Down here, at its extreme range. If this is where you feel the most discomfort,
especially coming out of there, then you’re going to find that’s a problem. This is also because of the extension here
of our arm behind our body, back, extending, where you feel and put the most pressure on
the bicep tendon. So for both of those reasons, in a labrum
issue – labrum/bicep tendon involvement – you’re going to feel it the most at the
bottom here. Well, there’s a solution for that. If I came out of this rack here, and I came
right down to the floor, we could floor press because we don’t have that differential
anymore with the arms going this way, and the bench is pushing up this way. Now the floor is proving all the support evenly
from my arm as I press off of it. You can use dumbbells. It’s controlling my depth. If I’m sticking my chest up, and out I’m not
sacrificing that much in the depth by doing the floor press. But what we want to do is, when we dump the
weight we don’t want to do this, from what we just learned. If I have the dumbbells and I’m done with
the floor press, and I go like this to dump them I just did exactly what I told you not
to do, which is causing that quick, forceful, internal rotation, which could cause the AC
joint. So what we do is, when we’re down here we
just un-hammer curl them. Just let them come out, drop to the floor,
and be done with it. So that would be our solution there. Again, is this ideal for training? Doing floor presses versus a regular bench-press,
or a dumbbell bench-press? Maybe not, but the key was, in the beginning
I told you that you need to continue to train, and find ways that you can train around it. At least while it’s healing and starting to
feel better. Remember, you’re never going to completely
heal that situation, but you’re going to get to the point where you don’t feel pain anymore
when you’re bench-pressing. That’s the key. So now, the other group. This group over here. The one where we start with the bursitis,
which maybe goes to a rotator cuff tendonitis, which could go to a rotator cuff tear if we
continue to fray, and fray, and fray away. We’re fraying because we’ve got pinching going
on inside there. If you don’t listen to the pinching, and
you don’t adapt to the pinching, and do something about it you’re going to continue
to have problems. You have to look at ‘what is the relationship
of the elbows to the torso’ because we’ve got to create as much space as we can. So if we lift our elbows all the way up, and
now I’m working with my arm up here, I’ve used up a lot of space here. There’s not much left. What I need to do is, I need to get my elbows
down a little bit so I’ve got more space to move my arm and my body. That’s the first thing. You’ve heard people tell you – you’ve heard
me tell you – to get your elbows down at this closer angle to your body when you’re
going to bench. The same thing here applies to the bench-press. The next thing you want to do is, you want
to do what I call the ‘master tip’. You want to get your shoulders depressed here. What we happen to do, we’re trap over activated
people. Our traps will go all the way up here just
from stress, from always doing stuff in front of us, texting; you want to get the traps
out because when the traps are up you’ve just inadvertently shrugged, and created less room
in your shoulders. So you want to get the traps down, depress
them from here, and then with your shoulders down here – when I say ‘down and back’ it’s
down that way, and back – now you’ve pressed, and you’ve created a lot more room in that
joint, and it feels a hell of a lot better. Especially for those that are already dealing
with impingement issues. Then finally, you want to talk about – if
it’s that bad and you can’t do anything here, remember internal rotation with elevation
is the problem. That’s going to cause even less space in there. So you might want to switch from getting off
here, to a dumbbell. With a dumbbell we can change our grip. So if we go from this position here, internally
rotated to bench, we can actually go to a neutral grip. But when we neutral grip we’re getting external
rotation here at the shoulder. The more external rotation, the more space
inside that joint, the more pain free that press is going to become for you, to the point
where we can go all the way over, underhand, and we can do an underhand bench-press. Again, you might feel safer doing it with
dumbbells because you can dump them that way more safely than you could with a bar, but
you can actually do an underhand bench-press there with the bar, as long as you’re holding
on properly, and do that to create more space in here, and give you an option. Again, guys, these are all options. The key is this: I wanted to give you a video
that broke down this exercise in particular as in depth as I could, so really get something
out of it, that’s going to allow you to continue to train. Again, you do not want to stop training if
you’ve got this injury. You want to see things. There’s a way you can continue to train so
you can intervene, and stop that cycle of pain, and get yourself back on track, getting
stronger again, so you can resume your normal workouts. Guys, I’m going to break this down for all
the other exercises here for the chest, and I’m going to do all the other muscle groups,
too. And the other exercises that I know cause
pain in those ‘bad combinations’ like I referenced in the beginning of the video. In the meantime, if you’ve found this video
helpful leave your comments and thumbs up below. Let me know what else you want me to cover
here. Again, as a physical therapist this all matters
to me. It’s not just doing a bench-press to get
a big chest. The fact of the matter is, you’d better be
able to do it safely, or you’re not going to be doing it for long. That’s what matters most. If you’re looking for a program that does
care about all of it then head to ATHLEANX.com. Pick any of our programs because I write them
all with that in mind. You can find them using the program selector
with the link below this video. In the meantime, again, let me know if you’ve
found this helpful and I’ll do more of them. All right, guys. I’ll see you back here again soon.

100 thoughts on “Fix Your Shoulder Pain (BENCH PRESS!)

  1. Want to win an ATHLEAN-X program for free, no strings attached? Click the link below to find out how!

    https://giveaway.athleanx.com/how-to-win.html

  2. I'm 43 and haven't been able to perform a flat bench rep without excruciating pain for the last 25 years. Today I went through an entire chest workout with zero pain following your advice. I can't put into words what this means to me. I've had doctors tell me I needed surgery to repair my shoulder issue. I have bulked up multiple times just to see it waste away due to reoccurring shoulder pain. Jeff you are not only a master at what you do, but the fact that you share what you know is incredible and I am forever in your debt.

  3. I'm suffering from shoulder injury for more than a week now and I have searched for over 50 odd videos to understand and get remedy for my injury. Believe me guys you won't find a better video than this explaining in detail on what one might be exactly suffering from and what exactly one needs to do to get over it.
    Well done friend, great job…this video will definitely help a lot of people….👍🏼✌🏼

  4. I always get pain when i do incline dumbbell press, i believe i have good form but it just keeps hurtin, its so annoying…

  5. wow… you literally described the exact way it feels for me to do anything with my shoulder. ive been laying off of working out for 2 months now because i was scared to cause even more damage. doctor told me to start working out again and then i find this video! the exact way i was planning to bench; with smaller ROM and dumbbells while watching out for the hand and scapular position. been telling my parents for ages how theres always a way to train around an injury but they wouldnt listen to me. this has REALLY helped, cant thank you enough jeff

  6. Thank you so much for your solutions and helpful information, it honestly feels amazing to find a way to fix my problem!

  7. Good solid info! Thx. I train calisthenics, but started to have shoulderpain, where Is thought it was to less or bad stretching. Now I see I have the 2nd (black marker) problem. So I need to watch my shoulder position keeping it down while doing, push or pull excercises.
    Thx Jeff! Loving how much I learn from your channel in just a few days.

  8. The results of an MRI show that I have a full depth supraspinatus tear. I am still waiting for my next appointment to see if I need surgery. Is it still ok to do these exercises as suggested?

  9. So so helpful! I’m not aiming for this level of fitness, but the careful explanation really clarified issues in having with basic stuff like pushups. I’ve heard “keep your elbows in,” but having all this explained makes that make so much more sense! Thank you!

  10. I find dumbells alright work for me, I think I have a tear because of what you were saying but using dumbells I can go as heavy as my bench just change the rotation and much less pain.

  11. awesome, i started feeling pain in the back and side of my shoulder, now i know what to do to continue my work outs. one question, my doctor told me to ice and heat however he did not tell me when to use one or the other. your input would be appreciated.

  12. Exactly what had happened to my right shoulder.
    Stopped weight lifting for a week now and the pain's almost gone.
    I'll keep your words in mind when I start again!
    Thanks so much!

  13. Jeff please respond,

    I'm 29 yr old natural bodybuilder/powerlifter of 12 years straight training. I did a bunch of self diagnostic physiotherapy tests and all of them I have zero pain. I have no pain while doing military press, super heavy or light, I can do lateral raises shoulder pain free, but on bench press I still have pain in my left shoulder especially at the top last 7/8 of the movement. Incline bench no pain, just decline and flat bench press I have this pain in my left shoulder.

    Any ideas what it could be? Been one year now with this.

  14. hey jeff i feel a click when i circle shrug my shoulder, its only on my left side, and it sounds like bones grinding, i also started to somewhat lose feeling in my pinky finger but that happens in my right arm too, sometimes when im lifting weight, its hard to keep up with the symptoms when theres no pain, i've stopped working out for a month and its still there, now im back and im just wondering if this is normal or should i do something

  15. I'm suffering in my shoulder almost 3 months after doing bench press.. I feel the pain inside like my bone are breaked

  16. Always had a sore shoulder when bench pressing and this one change to it has eliminated the pain and made the bench press a lot more difficult. Ready for those gains 👍

  17. Hello Jeff, what would you say is the problem with shoulder if you cant even complete a pushup? And just for some insight, it doesnt matter how wide or close the stance is, or if there is an incline or not. Pain is centralized around area you made lines on your deltoid area, an inch or 2 lower.

  18. Great reminder on how to drop my dumbbells on eccentric overload floor press flies without internal rotation, hadnt been thinking about it

  19. Just a warning to anyone who works-out at Planet Fitness, or any gym that has a strict "No dropping weights policy"….

    I lowered 75LB dumbbells to the floor, from a flat-bench, like a skier using his poles (but from his/her back.) I didn't want to set off the weight-dropping alarm and embarrass myself. When I was doing this, it caused discomfort, but it was for such a short period of time I thought NOTHING of it. After all, I used to rep 100LB dumbbells EASILY! Surely 70-75LB can't cause a serious injury! (How wrong I was….)

    Every night since then, nearly 5 weeks ago, when I lay down to sleep, (on my back, OR on my side) my shoulders hurt SO BADLY that I LITERALLY can't sleep until I'm MENTALLY EXHAUSTED. Then, after my exhaustion outweighs the pain, I'll fall asleep, only to wake up 60-90 minutes later, with both my shoulders hurting even worse. It's 7AM as I write this, sleep not on the horizon.

    Worse yet, when this injury happened, I was 8-weeks into my SOUL INFUSED RETURN to weight-lifting, after a 8 year lay-off. I was just starting to see some REAL PROFOUND gains: More importantly, I was becoming a happier person. I don't mean to be melodramatic, but this injury has demoralized me, it has stolen my will-power, crushed my short-term goals, and whilst I'm embarrassed to admit this, it actually has affected me emotionally.

    "When you get older in life, things get taken from you. That's just…that's just part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losing stuff."
    Al Pacino

  20. i have supraspinatus tendonitis if i write it correct on right shoulder and i am looking for a solution. my doctor told me dont do exercises for 1 year maybe 2 but i dont know if thats good.

  21. About the grip matter towards the end of the video, I've always thought about doing bench press with an EZ bar and I thought there should be curved olympic barbells for bench press.

  22. Jeff is the man on any exercise that pain is involved, let alone regular exercises that he explains really well

  23. My employer has a gym, but only has a Smith Machine for doing the bench press. Can you explain how to set up correctly for that?

  24. I also did hurt my shoulder joints today like 8 hours ago while doing my last shoulder exercise lying Cable facepull. Really worried rn!

  25. I have rear delt impingment as far as I know from doing heavy bench press for years without training back at all. Now my scapulars are always sore and my biceps are always tight and sore and my shoulders click and are stiff and sore. Please help Athlean X

  26. Thank you, this helped tremendously. First time I had my shoulder pain during bench press reduced substantially. You rock!!

  27. Hi Jeff! Can you explain why putting your arms behind your back during lat excersizes isn't causing injuries but back squats do?

  28. Instead of arching the chest on the flat bench, wouldn't it be advantageous to use the decline bench to help reduce the shoulder pain? It seems that the chest is already in that lifted position since you're lying at a decline. p.s. I have the shoulder pain, but it feels like I'm feeling it in conjunction with neck pain…right in that clavicle area.

  29. I have tingling down the arm and fingers when I do certain movements. Head back standing straight up. Impingement maybe of my shoulder as well?

  30. Thank you for the shoulder tips. I'm 57 and have protracted shoulders. Just starting to workout again after like 25 years and concerned about shoulder problems. Started doing face pulls and will now incorporate this as well.

  31. Forgot to add that I don't really have shoulder pain, but I do have popping sensations around the shoulder area and into my neck later after a workout. Just walking around and I get this.

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