What You Did

While bench-pressing, one of your shoulders started hurting.

What You Feel

A general ache that may make it difficult to sleep if you rest on that shoulder. You get a sharp pain when you reach into your back pocket. Sometimes you feel your shoulder “catch” with certain arm movements.

The Diagnosis

Shoulder impingement. This is when the rotator cuff tendons rub along the roof of the shoulder joint (the acromion). Repetitive motion with incorrect bench form will cause irritation and swelling, reducing the space through which the rotator cuff tendons can move under the acromion.

The Treatment

Perform the following four times per week.

1. Band external rotation. Hold the end of a band with your elbow tight to your side. Keeping your arm bent at 90 degrees, rotate your forearm away from your body. Do two sets of 10 reps.

2. Blackburn. Lay facedown with arms at your sides. Hold each of these positions for five seconds: Raise your arms out 90 degrees to make a “T” shape with your thumbs up. Turn thumbs down. Move arms in front of you to make a “Y” (hold thumbs up, then down). Now bend your elbows to make a “W” shape with your arms, thumbs up. That is one rep. Do six reps.

3. Rear cable flye. Attach a D-handle to two opposing pulleys and perform a reverse fly, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Complete three sets of 15–20 reps..

4. Lying external rotation. Hold a light dumbbell and lie on your other side. Bend your arm 90 degrees and rotate your forearm away from the floor. Do three sets of 10 to 15.


To minimize shoulder strain, bench-press with your shoulder blades pinched down and back. This draws your chest out and places all the stress of the lift on your pecs. Also, vary your angles each pressing session, along with the weight and the reps you use.