Is dumbell bench press safer for the shoulders? Is dumbell bench press safer for the shoulders?

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Thread: Is dumbell bench press safer for the shoulders?

  1. #1
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    May 2012
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    Default Is dumbell bench press safer for the shoulders?

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    I have been having some mild but chronic shoulder pain for a while, and I suspect it's due to the bench press. While my bench press form is not perfect (as can be seen here Bench and press form check (shoulder pain)), I don't think I violate an extreme rule where it's obvious that I'm putting my shoulder in danger.

    I'm seeing a PT tomorrow and he will also be doing an ultrasound and I hope he can confirm there are no tears etc.. However, I am preparing for some possible bad news. If there is something visibly wrong with my shoulder I don't know if I want to get back to my regular benching because there will not be a clear causation for my shoulder injury in the first place. So I would likely just continue hurting my shoulder.

    My Press and bench are only 120 and 175 (BW 168), but I am happy with my current physique, and while I would love to get stronger I would also be very happy with maintaining my current muscle mass for the rest of my life and not needing shoulder surgery.

    I remember you saying you only do light dumbell bench presses now because of your shoulders, are they safer for your shoulders than barbell bench?

  2. #2
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    The PT will not be able to diagnose RC tears with an ultrasound. Mild but chronic shoulder pain could be caused by lots of things, and you didn't say if it was one or both shoulders. If safety is your primary concern, and you are training for physique and are happy with your current strength and muscle mass, I suggest you stop benching and pressing immediately, and just do some maintenance on machines every couple of weeks, after this pain subsides. Dumbbells can be dangerous.

  3. #3
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    Appreciate the reply very much
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    The PT will not be able to diagnose RC tears with an ultrasound.
    Is this because of the ultrasound or the PT? I thought I read studies showing decent ultrasound sensitivity compared to MRI

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    Mild but chronic shoulder pain could be caused by lots of things, and you didn't say if it was one or both shoulders.
    Both shoulders, but more on the right. In a panic, I have diagnosed myself with partial articular supraspinatus tendon avulsion. I have mostly vague complaints and some pain with resisted shoulder abduction, which are both PASTA symptoms.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    If safety is your primary concern, and you are training for physique and are happy with your current strength and muscle mass, I suggest you stop benching and pressing immediately, and just do some maintenance on machines every couple of weeks, after this pain subsides. Dumbbells can be dangerous.
    Iím sensing a little ridiculing here (completely fine of course), but if you are serious, donít machines cause more injury than free weights (apart from acute traumas like dropping a barbell)?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by gadsie View Post
    Is this because of the ultrasound or the PT? I thought I read studies showing decent ultrasound sensitivity compared to MRI
    They can't say it if it isn't true.


    Both shoulders, but more on the right. In a panic, I have diagnosed myself with partial articular supraspinatus tendon avulsion. I have mostly vague complaints and some pain with resisted shoulder abduction, which are both PASTA symptoms.
    These types of diagnoses are always very accurate.


    I’m sensing a little ridiculing here (completely fine of course), but if you are serious, don’t machines cause more injury than free weights (apart from acute traumas like dropping a barbell)?
    They're perfectly safe if you only use them once every couple of weeks.

  5. #5
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    I encourage the OP to investigate the data on correlation of rotator cuff partial tears found on imaging and symptoms, both before and after repair, as well as time to resolution of symptoms, with and without significant activity restriction. As I recall some fairly high quality studies on this subject were reviewed by an MD formerly associated with this site who has some peculiar ideas about genetics and human development but is otherwise reasonably intelligent.
    If benching is acutely making the shoulders hurt you should try dumbbell benching and see if it is better. Also, get your barbell bench form sorted (unless you are giving up benching). And you are correct about the machines, your sense for ridicule is well tuned.

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