try doing a warm up for your shoulders before each set...that has helped a great deal with my shoulder pains...
i usually use 5-10lb plates and just sorta warm up the shoulder a little bit proior to each set...havent had any shoulder issues since i started doing that.
This is a good point, most people do not perform a proper warm-up for the bench press. Some rush right into their working sets, or at the most do 1 warm-up set with lighter weight. A powerlifter I know that benches 700 lbs (shirted) advised me always to start warming up with the bar and work up slowly no matter how much you bench. Ever since I started doing that I've noticed I've gotten a lot stronger and I've had less shoulder injuries/pain.
Dumbbells are fine for strength training. SaVvy on here is huge and he exclusively uses dumbbells. Do whatever feels right. Bodybuilding is also strength training. What do you think bodybuilding is? Aerobics? Playing cards?
in responde to a PM about this - although ive been taking a break from them recently cuss of powerlifting goals, yeh ive used bells a lot - the advantage of dumbbells is you dont need a spot so you can go hard an hit failure if you want to + both sides of your body have to work hard so it evens out your strength + with bench press for me at 1st i would use a lot of shoulder an triceps an not so much chest when using a barbell, with dumbbells it focused more on the chest >i like dumbells for overhead press, shrugs, rows, an curls also
Try to work on your form too. Pinch your shoulder blades together as much as possible, tuck your chin into your chest, keep your shoulders tucked in, and don't let your elbows flare out. Putting all that together should keep your shoulders safe and healthy.
RECALL seeing something about how you get better strength and performance if head is not lifted and driven back into the bench.