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7 Ways to Modify Your Chest Day Workout to Avoid Shoulder Pain at the Gym

Updated: Feb 6



Pain with bench pressing

If your patients are putting in hard work at the gym, they may inevitably experience pain and injuries, particularly concerning shoulder discomfort during the bench press. As the number of dedicated gym-goers increases, it becomes crucial to grasp the methods of rehabilitating injuries in these fitness enthusiasts.

Injuries can be disruptive, throwing a wrench into our patients' training routines. Nevertheless, they are part of the fitness journey and are bound to occur occasionally. Despite experiencing some pain, it doesn't necessarily mean that patients should halt their training altogether. Ideally, we can collaboratively address these injuries with our patients, adopting a more intelligent approach to training when such issues arise. Furthermore, when faced with significant injuries, we should guide them on how to return to the gym safely.

Shoulder pain during the bench press can be particularly frustrating, hampering training performance and making bench days unpleasant. Ignoring pain during bench press can lead to various outcomes: the pain may eventually subside, remain consistent, or worsen over time. Many of us, as fitness enthusiasts, have encountered this uncertainty. Training through pain might yield gradual improvement, but on the flip side, it could exacerbate the situation.

Engaging in this gamble with our patients' shoulder injuries is not conducive to their long-term performance and health. Therefore, it's crucial to learn how to adjust their training, enabling them to pursue their fitness goals while ensuring that pain diminishes over time. Fortunately, exercise can play a role in rehabilitating injuries while allowing individuals to continue working toward their training objectives, provided it's done appropriately.

The key lies in understanding how to appropriately dose exercise. Similar to taking aspirin for a headache, finding the right dosage of exercise is essential. Overdoing it, like taking the entire bottle of aspirin, can be detrimental. Therefore, determining the right exercise dosage for shoulder pain in the bench press involves identifying variations and set/rep schemes that align with the training plan for the day and are well-tolerated by the shoulder.

To alleviate shoulder pain during the bench press, it's advisable to focus on modifying the exercise rather than immediately suggesting a cessation of bench pressing. Six considerations can guide this modification:

  1. Decrease total load or slow down the speed of movement.

  2. Make sure muscles are properly warmed up by exercise and not by stretches

  3. Increase the number of reps.

  4. Slow down the lift or add "pauses."

  5. Press less frequently throughout the week.

  6. Vary the pressing exercise.

  7. Narrow the grip and limit the range of motion.

If these modifications prove insufficient, a systematic approach involving different exercises or rowing variations is recommended. Progress should be gradual, avoiding movements that are not well-tolerated initially and gradually reintroducing them as the patient's pain subsides. While some may swiftly return to their normal routine, others may require more extended modification periods based on individual differences in pain and injuries. In essence, this provides a straightforward plan to assist patients dealing with shoulder pain during the bench press

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