How To Fix Shoulder Pain After Bench Press

Often the cause of shoulder pain from bench press is a strain of the rotator cuff muscles. The rotator cuff is a set of 4 muscles that moves your shoulder. All 4 of these muscles attach to the front of the shoulder which can be the source of pain. Often my patients complain of pain along the front or side of their shoulder when they have injured it during bench press. After a rotator cuff strain the shoulder is sore and mobility is limited. Let’s explore some exercises to fix your shoulder pain after bench press!


The focus of this stage of physiotherapy is to focus on mobility of the shoulder involving movements of the the arm up to shoulder height. Exercises should ideally be pain free, however mild discomfort is acceptable.

Shoulder external rotation

-stand up straight, pinch both shoulder blades back slightly.

-with the injured arm, place a small towel between your elbow and your torso.

-hold onto a resistance band with both hands.

-while keeping the rolled towel pined against your body, pull the band using the injured arm.

Scaption raises

-stand on one end of the band and hold onto the opposite end.

-stand up straight, pinch both shoulder blades back slightly.

-lift your arm out at a 45 degree angle and stop at shoulder height.

-after doing this exercise for a few weeks progress to performing a lateral raise where you bring the arm up to your side.


At this stage the focus is working on overhead mobility. Again, stay within the mild range for pain during these exercises.

90/90 shoulder external rotation to overhead press

-stand up straight, pinch both shoulder blades back slightly.

-stand on one end of the band and hold onto the opposite end.

-start with your elbows up and your forearm parallel with the floor.

-rotate your arm until your forearm is facing the wall in front of you, then punch the ceiling.

Pulling out the sword

-stand up straight, pinch your shoulder blades back slightly.

-holding the band with both hands, start with your hands on the opposite hip of the injured shoulder.

-pull the band up toward the injured shoulder, similar to pulling the sword out of it’s sheath.


Chest and overhead press with kettlebells

Use a light (10-15 lbs) kettle bell for this exercise. Perform a chest press by holding onto an inverted kettle bell. The inverted kettle bell will require you to focus on balance and perform this exercise slowly. Use the kettle bell to perform flat/incline chest press and overhead shoulder press.

Chest and overhead press with dumbbells

Progress to using dumbbells for chest and overhead shoulder presses. Using dumbbells rather than a barbell at this point allows you to vary your shoulder position during the movement for increased comfort.

Chest and overhead press with barbell

Finally return back to chest and overhead press using a light barbell. Using the barbell will require you to move through a stricter range of motion. Remember to keep your elbow slight tucked down during the bench press movement since this puts less stress on the shoulder joint.

Try out these exercises to fix your shoulder pain after bench press. For further consultation, don’t hesitate to contact us at Rebuild Physiotherapy.

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