T Nation

Bench Press and A/C Pain


A few months ago I dislocated my A/C joint when I was hit by a car cycling. Now that I am back to bench pressing I get a lot of pain around the joint, but only in this plane of movement. Anyone else experience this? I can mil press without pain, but bench just kills me no matter what grip I have (wide/narrow/etc). The rest of my upper body is developing nicely, but my chest is lagging because of this. Should I just wait it out?

Any advice would be appreciated.


Well I feel your pain. I actually just posted a week or two about this same problem; I didn't dislocate my shoulder, but I separated the AC joint. Benching is the only thing now that causes me pain; I hear it's the last thing to come back.

As far as advice, I would do a search for the post I made a week or two ago. Just search "AC separation". I got some good ideas; weighted pushups instead of bench might work out well (because you're not pinning the shoulder to the bench and stretching it backwards, which is almost like a kimura submission). To really bomb chest do them between 2 chairs and go down low. Another thing I've been doing is partial reps, only doing the bottom half of the movement on bench. I can still get a good pump while using less weight this way. Chad Waterbury posted a great chest workout that doesn't even use the bench, you should be able to find that.

Finally, I've been using Ian King's chest and back program to ease my way back into benching; the program starts by training the chest assistance muscles, and emphasizes using pre-exhaustion methods before and slow tempo during the bench. This lets you fatigue the muscle without using a lot of weight, which, for me at least, was key. Anyway, best of luck.


I've also dealt with shoulder pain from bench pressing...back in the day when that's all I did.

I just recently started to get back under the bar and try some things to work around my obviously weak shoulder.

First, I did other shoulder exercises. Military press being the main one. This seemed to help alot and I'd guess that it's because A)it works the muscles of the shoulders in plane that doesn't cause pain, making them stronger, and more importantly B)it really increased the bloodflow to the area. The shoulder joint has a poor blood supply making it a tough bastard to heal in a timely manner. Simply using the shoulder increases that bloodflow and accelerates the healing process.

Next, I started adding in light bench press while experimenting with different grips. A wide grip brought on pain, while a narrow one eased it. I think this is because having a narrow grip makes it easier to keep your elbows tucked in, helping to stabilize the shoulder joint.

The last key that really helped me was trying to bend the bar. By trying to bend the bar towards your feet and parallel to them, your elbows are Forced inward creating a really stable shoulder joint. Keep your shoulder blades pulled back too.


Hello, I'm curious about this thread as I have the same issue.

I've never heard of an A/C seperation before, what is it? I though I subluxated my shoulder (twice, 7 years apart), the last time when boxing. The doc or PT couldn't tell what had happened because everything was back to normal. What are the symptoms of an A/C seperation?

I threw a left hook 6 months ago, hit a guys face and hear a cracking sound in my shoulder, it hurts like xxx and i feel it slides back in place. I do turkish get ups and external rotations and rear delt work for rehab - feels good but I'm not totally back on track, I havent benched since january. DB benches, especially inclines, are ok.


I seperated my AC joint in January. My clavicle is "popped up if you will" but the actual joint is long healed. The biggest mistake I and most people make is trying to manage the healed AC joint instead of the stabilizers and muscles that align and support the AC joint. In most cases improving muscle imbalences and length tension relationships makes a huge difference in allowing the AC joint and tissues uner it to function properly.

Strengthing the scapuler retractors (medial trapezius, rhomboids, etc..), stabilizors (serratus anterior etc..), and depressors makes a big difference.

As far as this site goes some of the stuff in the neanderthal no more series is great for balancing back out the anterior and posterior muscles that affect the shoulder.


Thank you for all the sound advice. For years (after having a few surgeries on the same shoulder) I have been building up my stabilizing muscles in the back. I love back work and prefer it to benching. My a/c is popped up too and I hate the fact I am just that much more assymetrical.
I will get some bands and do some more retraction work. I am currently on the "shoulder overhaul" and wanted to add in a bench day. Do you think this is too taxing?

I guess more time for it to heal...