Fix Your Shoulder Pain (BENCH PRESS!)

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 Replies to “Fix Your Shoulder Pain (BENCH PRESS!)”

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  2. i think i have poped my AC joint, how do i fix it. ? i think it was cos of a cycling injury and it's prob causing issue with my spine but i don't feel pain or anything actually i don't even gt headaches anymore so something broken but i can't tell where.

  3. This only happens with my left shoulder its so annoying i can't go past like 5 reps without intense pain stopping me mid set!

  4. I want to thank Jeff for his devotion to duty and also thank him for something else rather obtuse and personal: NO TATTOOS! Keep it real, Jeff! You don't need 'em!

  5. @5:22 in, yeah the ac joint exactly where i felt it, trying this movement at home on the bed and feels a lot better. Thanks

  6. Very helpful video Jeff. Why do you say that the labrum (and often times biceps tendon as well due to the proximity of it to the labrum) is an injury that does not heal?

  7. 1:57 – Exactly the pain I was having
    6:06 – What I was doing under the bar (obviously not that exaggerated)

    Thanks Jeff, you're the best!

  8. Even if one does not have shoulder problems, anything that still works the chest without stressing the shoulders (especially the anterior etc.) is great. Almost like how some people prefer to lunge backwards instead of forwards to minimize anterior knee pain. So I guess there is no physio solution to at least partially recover those areas you had mentioned with any rehab exercises/stretching? Regardless I will review again if I did not understand all this the first time.

  9. AQugust 14 2019: Will try this this week at Planet Fitness. Great video! I have some kind of shoulder pain since 2010. My right shoulder got better, my left one seems to have crunching. lol G-D bless!

  10. I hurt my shoulder and I took a week off doing chest and shoulder and I went back a week later and it was much worse. This video is just what I needed

  11. I don't know, 14 minutes of talking and I still don't know a thing how to fix my shoulder after injury…you say keep exercising but if I feel sharp pain in my shoulder when I do it so what's the point?

  12. I saw this video at the perfect time I did hurt my shoulder and they say it may be impingement or bursitis but I do not want to stop working out
    I’m 62 and workout 4-5 days a week one hour H.I.I.T TRAINING THE SHOP FITNESS LODI CA

  13. Priceless info on strengthening muscles after rotator cuff impingement! Saves me hundreds buying inappropriate equipment and poor outcome. THX MR. JEFF !

  14. Thanks alot. I think i got what i was doing wrong and hope that pain will go away with further exercising :p

  15. Guess I'll have to pay closer attention to that particular form. Went 4 days without a workout and put in a full body a night ago. Left shoulder feels like a knife going into it.

  16. I am worried about how arching my lower back up during the bench press causes tension in my lower back. It also compresses my lungs not allowing me to take as deep of a breath . Idk I’ve been really trying to keep my back straight and lower back not engaged during work outs when it’s really not supposed to be.

  17. My elbow and shoulders lock up during barbell bench press, it’s not the weight I can bench 140kg but I keep fucking getting this lock up bullshit even when I get good leg drive and bring the shoulders back and down opening up the chest.

  18. 47 y/o female working out cf/hiit type workouts x 1 yr. Slowly attempting to left heavier can dl 165 1rep max, Can squat 105 x a few reps. I have not gone above 50 lbs bench pressing yet, was comfortably doing workouts with up to 20 reps and maybe 4 rounds at 30 -40 lbs in our classes. At some point about maybe 3 months ago I started having pain in both shoulders after a workout. The exercises that were problematic include bench presses,lateral raises,push ups, chest flys. I tried doing these at lower weights sometimes that's better,but still hurts. Pain will still occur with floor presses,but better at much lower weights. Stretches and warm up seems to helps some,I was using pvc pipe,pendulum stretches and some others. Based on the location of the pain and the fact that it does not radiate and gets better over the course of a few days if I rest it.I have sort of concluded that it seems like rotator tendinitis and or bursitis.So frustrating when you're wanting to make progress and you can in many other ways,but something like this sets you back.

  19. I was struggling with horrible shoulder pain for awhile to the point where I couldn’t even bench and my shoulders would throb in pain if I was just sitting down. I realized it was due to the fact that my chest and back muscles were not proportional because my chest muscles were bigger than my back (specifically my traps). This was causing a lot of strain on my shoulder tendons. Once I found that out I really focused on building my back by doing a lot of hex bar deadlifts and weighted rows. After a month or two of that my shoulder pain was practically cured and I could bench and raise my arms without any pain. I hope this helps some of you out there struggling with the same problem I was.

  20. Outstanding content Jeff as always. Been watching your videos for several years and learned so much, Tank you for the continued effort and diligence and your direct talk to your audience. You are ‘best of the best’!

  21. I wanna say I fucked my labram above the bicep in between shoulder deep pain lost strength been working on range of motion day 5 I’ll be trying my best to get back in the gym I’m board as shit. I feel slow ,:/

  22. My left shoulder was sublaxed in a bad car accident. I have entrapment issues now and i found your video extremely helpful. It gave me insight into what movement could release/manipulate by shoulder into a better position. Thank you.

  23. This video is so great! Better than my coach told me. Is there any video that can teach me how to fix pain around the lower shoulder blade, thanks a ton.

  24. Mate your a legend. I broke my collar bone and I was still having ac joint pain. This video is so succinct and covers so much. Really helped me to work through it

  25. Thank you again Jeff, you’re the best. I just started gym and I was losing my motivation because I couldn’t do any kind of push movements but that’s all in the past now, I hope.

  26. Jeff, you didnt tell us how to fix this, just how to avoid it. Is the fix in another video? So I mean, if I cureently have the ac joint pain, is there an excercise I can do to fortify the area? Or do I just keep benching with the correct for you mention. Thanks for all the info, I am a fan

  27. My shoulder doesn’t hurt until I workout. I have a full range of motion in my shoulder, even when it hurts, mine just pulses sharp pains when I workout. When I first workout the first 10 min it doesn’t thirst but after it will start to hurt and I really don’t feel much weakness in it. I just don’t want it to become something worse like a year or something, do you think icing it and warming it for a week and not workout for a week will help it?

    Edit: I have cut my shoulder workouts for about 3 months now but it still wants to hurt when I do bench or any type of upper body workouts

  28. Been working with left shoulder pain for a long time this video really gave me peace of mind to keep training not necessary through discomfort but despite. Big smiles over here!!!

  29. Finally ..now i know what my issue is specifically…i knew it was rotator cuff issue but pinpointing it now i see its the Labrum. It occurred from my job from constant " singhandling" items n on occasions…over extending my arm uneccesarily. I definitely felt that target area in the gym during " bench" excercises….

    Thanks Jeff ( and Raymond LoL ) 😊👍😊

  30. Do yourself a favor as a viewer an watch this multiple times an pay attention highly because he’s accurately discussing key shoulder issues that can be difficult to diagnose incredible video Jeff.

  31. ATHLEAN-X TM I have had a problem with bench press for along time and don’t do them now . When I benched flat my training partners would tell me that the bar is leaning down on the left side but i could feel it in my pecs ,when I tried to correct it thinking the smith machine won’t lean I noticed my left side would raise slightly as I lowered the bar. I’m confused.

  32. 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.

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