Bench Press Modifications for Shoulder Pain

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Bench Press Modifications for Shoulder Pain | Week 54 | Movement Fix Monday

A lot of times when someone has pain doing a certain activity, they either think or are told to completely avoid doing that activity at all.

While I think there is a time and place for that kind of thought process, I'd prefer to find modifications or tweaks people can make to their lifts to allow them to keep training while they let something cool off or become less painful.

The shoulder's function in bench press is a case where you can make some easy modifications to the hand grip position that can make the movement go from being painful to non-painful.

Grip Modifications

The standard bench press grip is a pronated grip. When the shoulder is rotated to get into this position, the surpraspinatus tendon is in a position where it can get a little aggravated at times. The biceps tendon in this shoulder position is more 'in the clear' so to speak.

The opposite is true in the supinated/underhand grip bench press. The supraspinatus tendon rolls out of the way and the biceps tendon changes positions as well. Benching in a supinated grip can be completely pain free for someone who has pain benching overhand and vice versa.

You could also adopt a neutral grip with dumbbells.

Training Variability

Point being, there are positional changes that occur in the shoulder with different grips and you can use that information to your advantage.

For example, if you cycle through different grip bench presses or push ups through your training cycles long term, you can change which structures are more vulnerable and stressed versus others. This variability makes one structure less likely to be predisposed to becoming painful by dispersing stress across multiple tissues over time.

The article we discuss in the videos can be found HERE.

Thanks again to Chris Johnson for being a guest on the blog.

You can find Chris at the following places:

Chris and I will also be teaching a 2-Day Workshop together in Portland, OR at CrossFit Oregon City on April 9th covering the squat, deadlifting, overhead lifting, and running. More info on that event can be found HERE.

Thanks for reading.


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