How the Feldenkrais Method Helps with a Bench Press Shoulder Injury

by | Jul 6, 2023 | Feldenkrais® Method

The ‘bench press’ movement is such a fundamental action that has its roots in many everyday activities of daily living:

  • Pushing a heavy door
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Pushing yourself up from the floor
  • Lowering yourself down to the floor slowly

Rehabilitation professionals often use the ‘bench press’ exercise to improve upper body strength for a range of individuals—those with a high Frailty Index and athletes—to enhance the muscle definition of the chest, abdominals, and upper arms. Dealing with any shoulder injury can be a significant challenge. Still, it is incredibly challenging if you’re engaged in weightlifting and body-weight strength training. Whether the pain is in the chest, shoulder, upper arm, or during the pushing or lowing phase of the movement—all indicate an underlying injury letting you know that the components that make up the ‘bench press’ movement are either unavailable or are under threat for strain or sprain. The imposed demands threaten muscle fiber health and potential joint stability. Addressing underlying issues is crucial to safely continuing ‘bench press’ movements, experiencing muscle growth—hypertrophy, definition, and gaining functional improvement. Fortunately, there is a method that offers potential relief and support for those with ‘bench press’ shoulder injuries—the Feldenkrais® Method. 

In this blog post, we will explore how the Feldenkrais Method can assist individuals in their recovery and provide informative insights.

What is Shoulder Pain from the Bench Press?

Regarding bench press-related shoulder pain, it is essential to recognize that it is a symptom of an injury, regardless of its severity. The pain can arise from different sources within the shoulder, such as rotator cuff tendons: strains, impingements, tendonitis, or more severe conditions like tears; shoulder bursitis; or capsular and ligaments sprains that disrupt the joint integrity, instability or ‘snugness’ of the ball and socket which can lead to shoulder dislocations. Identifying the specific injury and its severity is crucial in developing an appropriate plan of recovery.

How the Feldenkrais Method Helps with a ‘Bench Press’ Shoulder Injury

The Feldenkrais Method, guided by experienced practitioners, offers valuable assistance in improving the condition of individuals with bench press shoulder injuries. While it is true that a torn rotator cuff muscle represents a structural problem with permanent changes and scarring that alter joint mechanics, the Feldenkrais Method focuses on learning how to work with these changes as well as understanding that patterns of movement and the quality of how we grip strength is just as important. Also, this type of somatic education understands that most acute injuries occur because of underlying compensation from previous injuries elsewhere in the body, poor postural habits, and inefficient movement patterns. The goal is to facilitate or create the conditions for healing, minimize strain and compensatory movements that can prolong guarding and splinting in the area, lay an excellent foundation for avoiding future injuries, and enhance one’s overall well-being and return to the activity of their choice.

Feldenkrais practitioners adopt an approach reminiscent of an infant’s curiosity and exploration. First, they actively listen and carefully observe how the joint can move without pain or force. Then, by gently guiding their clients, practitioners help them navigate uncharted territory and rediscover pain-free and effortless ranges of motion within their shoulders.

Unlike the treatment-oriented modalities typically employed during the early stages of an injury, the Feldenkrais Method resembles the relearning process required by individuals who have undergone physical changes due to factors like amputations, strokes, back problems, whiplash, or arthritic conditions.

More: How To Use the Feldenkrais® Method To Relieve Foot Pain

One of the fundamental teachings of the Feldenkrais Method is the importance of slowing down and engaging in micro-movements. By paying close attention to comfort rather than pushing boundaries that may trigger pain, individuals learn to develop a heightened awareness of their limitations. These boundaries guide safe movement and indicate areas that require further healing. The approach focuses on exploring movement possibilities without entering the boundaries, allowing for gradual progress without effort or discomfort. Over time, individuals expand their range of motion, finding the maximum movement suitable for their daily activities.

In addition to addressing the injured shoulder, the Feldenkrais Method acknowledges the compensatory mechanisms that emerge when the body attempts to support the injured area. For instance, individuals may overuse their opposite shoulder or rely on stabilizing their posture through the spine and back or change how they stand on one leg. While these compensations may initially aid in accommodating the injury, they can become habitual and persist even after they are no longer necessary. This excessive activity is not only inefficient, contributing to other areas of pain and dysfunction, but also exhausting.

A trained Feldenkrais practitioner becomes instrumental and a key player in one’s rehabilitation. Through gentle and deliberate movements, individuals can relearn how to adjust their posture, improving overall organization. By applying the principles of the Feldenkrais Method, you can discover its vast potential in various areas of life, such as injury recovery, posture improvement, and even enhancing your walk. In addition, it offers a transformative system for self-discovery and personal growth.

Final Thoughts

‘Bench-press’ shoulder injuries can be debilitating and cause significant distress. However, individuals with such injuries can find hope and support in the Feldenkrais Method. If you’re seeking guidance on the Feldenkrais Method or wish to explore the best modality for your pain, reach out to Montgomery Somatics at 812-344-4119. Embrace the opportunity to regain control and improve your quality of life with the Feldenkrais Method.