There's a Clicking in My Shoulder During a Bench Press

The bench press is an effective exercise for developing your chest, shoulder and triceps muscles, and for building upper-body strength. However, it also carries certain risks and can be detrimental to your shoulder health. You may sometimes hear and feel a clicking in your shoulder when bench pressing, and when this happens, it is important that you know the cause and how to deal with it.

Bench Press (Image: Serghei Starus/iStock/Getty Images)


The most likely cause of your shoulder clicking is a rotator cuff injury. The rotator cuff is a group of four small muscles that work together to support and stabilize your shoulder joint. According to the Mayo Clinic, the rotator cuff muscles can become inflamed when subjected to repetitive pressing or overhead movements, such as bench presses, which can lead to them becoming trapped and cause shoulder clicking and pain.


As soon as the clicking starts, cease bench pressing. To be on the safe side, you should also refrain from doing any weightlifting activities that involve moving your shoulder joint. Apply an ice pack to the area to reduce inflammation. Hold the ice pack on your shoulder for 20 minutes, then take it off and rest the shoulder for two hours. Repeat this process five times during the day.


Your bench-press technique may be contributing to your shoulder clicking, so when your shoulder heals, evaluate your form. Corrective exercise specialist Mike Robertson advises that when bench pressing, you should tuck your elbows in, as this reduces the stress on the shoulder joint. You should also ask a training partner to help you with the liftoff, as this can also stress the rotator cuffs and shoulder joint.


Most people don't train their rotator cuffs directly and do very little work for their upper back, which also helps support the shoulder joint. After every upper-body session, spend 15 minutes doing exercises for these areas, such as face pulls, external rotations, lower trap raises and Cuban presses. Use light-to-moderate weights and work in the 12-to-20-repetition range, focusing on technique. Adding these to your program should make your shoulder joints more stable and reduce the risk of reinjury.

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