Outside of low back pain, shoulder pain is one of the most prevalent musculoskeletal complaints. For avid exercisers and athletes, shoulder pain is something most are familiar with, especially when it comes to horizontal pressing movements.
The most popular of the horizontal pressing movements being the barbell bench press. Bench press often enough, long enough, and heavy enough, you will likely experience some degree of limitation due to shoulder pain or injury.
This can be for a number of reasons that all should be considered. But there is one reason why the barbell bench press becomes unfriendly to the shoulders – the fixed position the scapula (shoulder blades) are placed into.
Creating a tight upper back and stapling the scapula to the bench is critical for a big press as this forms the foundation for pressing.
But let’s consider healthy shoulder motion is dependent upon a freely moving scapula. Otherwise too much stress is placed at the glenohumeral joint (shoulder joint). Yes, accessory exercises should be programmed to maintain healthy shoulders but there is only so much that can be done to offset thousands of pounds of bench pressing volume. We absolutely should be proactive in our approach to avoiding shoulder pain and/or injury.
That’s why it is important to incorporate horizontal pressing movements that allow the scapula to move more freely. Whether they are used as a primary movement, accessory movement or alternative while the shoulder is on the mend, the exercises seem in this video can offer increased shoulder stability and motor control while giving your joints and connective tissue a break from intense training. See in this video are:
1) Standing Horizontal Cable Press
2) Stability Ball Dumbbell Press
3) Stability Ball Alternating DB Press
4) Stability Ball Single-Arm DB Press
A great benefit to these exercises is the amount of core and hip engagement required which is awesome for teaching force transfer through the body and how to steer strength.
Note: if performing heavy presses on a stability ball be sure to use a properly rated ball.
For more related reading: