Summary: Shoulder pain is a common problem among weightlifters, especially during bench presses. Ignoring the pain can lead to serious injuries that may put an end to someone’s weightlifting career. Fortunately, understanding the causes of shoulder pain and how to prevent it can help lifters reduce the risk of such injuries.
1. Proper Form
One of the most common causes of shoulder pain during bench pressing is improper form. If the lifter doesn’t tuck the elbows near the sides during the exercise, the shoulders’ range of motion increases, potentially creating excess stress on the joint. To stay safe, instead of flaring the elbows out, the lifter should try to keep them tucked in. This technique will help emphasize the chest muscles while reducing undue strain on the shoulders.
In addition, proper scapular retraction is essential for preventing shoulder injuries. When lifting weights, the lifter should retract and depress their scapulae to protect their rotator cuff muscles from damage.
Finally, correct bar path and keeping the bar over the wrist is crucial for avoiding shoulder injuries. The angle between the forearm and the upper arm should not be closed more than 90 degrees, and the wrists should remain straight.
2. Warm-Up Exercises
During weightlifting, and particularly bench pressing, shoulder muscles are highly involved and require exceptional mobility and stability. Cold muscles don’t have enough elasticity to tolerate the strain, which can cause tears and strains of the muscles. So, be sure to warm-up before hitting the bench press weights. Light cardio exercise or using a resistance band can activate the muscle fibers and stretch them safely. In addition, shoulder mobility exercises should be incorporated into warm-up routines to improve movement in the shoulder joint.
Another useful exercise is the face pull, which helps target the rear deltoids, rotator cuff muscles, and other upper back muscles. The maneuver strengthens the back of the shoulder, which helps stabilize the joint and allow it to move through the entire range of motion during benching.
Finally, warming up with lighter weights before moving on to heavier sets will improve blood flow to the muscles, raise body temperature, and prepare the body for intense workloads, reducing the risk of injury.
3. Shoulder Health Maintenance
To keep the shoulders healthy and prevent injuries, a few maintenance strategies can be implemented. One option is to use rotator cuff strengthening exercises to increase stability and provide a strong foundation for the joint. The rotator cuff muscles, located in your shoulder, assist in maintaining proper alignment and should, therefore, be strong enough to protect against potential injuries.
Rather than haphazardly approaching their bench press training, lifters should avoid overworking the shoulder muscles. Overtraining can lead to overstressing the muscles, making them more prone to injury. Be mindful of the amount of weight being lifted and the number of sets performed. It’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to shoulder health, which means taking extra-long rest periods.
Finally, effective stretching after the workout can help increase flexibility and range of motion in the shoulder joint. Static stretches lasting for 15 to 20 seconds per stretch can minimize the time required to recover and increase blood flow to the area, facilitating healing and recovery.
4. Monitor Load Indicators
The amount of weight lifted, repetitions performed, and the progress achieved must be monitored closely. An excessive workload can lead to serious injuries, such as rotator cuff tears and shoulder impingement. It’s vital to tailor the workout to the individual’s abilities and current fitness levels, challenging yourself but not pushing the envelope too far.
Therefore, lifters should monitor their load indicators closely to avoid any injury. Load indicators include weight lifted, rate of perceived exertion (RPE), fatigue levels, muscle soreness, and sleep quality.
Over time, if the target loads become hard to accomplish, it may be an indicator that the lifter is overworked and risking injury. Resting through lighter workouts will help ward off joint issues and prevent them from progressing into something more dangerous.
5. Know When to Seek Medical Help
If you experience severe shoulder pain when bench pressing, seek medical assistance. It could indicate a severe injury such as bone fractures, ligament ruptures, or serious rotator cuff injuries. A physician can perform diagnostic tests such as x-rays, MRI scans, or other imaging tests to determine the extent of the injury and provide appropriate care in a timely and effective manner.
In addition, it’s crucial to get treatment for shoulder injuries promptly. Be patient and seek professional help, as ignoring minor discomfort can lead to debilitating, chronic pain and immobility.
A good way to protect your shoulder health while weightlifting is to work with a personal trainer or exercise physiologist. This professional can develop routines tailored to your current fitness level and guide you through the workout to minimize injury risks.
Shoulder pain is a common issue that troubles weightlifters, particularly during bench presses. Minimizing the risk of injury means incorporating adequate warm-up exercises, practicing proper form, maintaining shoulder health, carefully monitoring load indicators, and seeking medical attention if necessary. These tactics, along with guidance from a professional, will enable you to keep lifting weights safely and effectively.