🔥FULL BENCH RANGE OF MOTION KILLING YOUR SHOULDERS?
Approximately 36% of the injuries related to resistance training involve the shoulder complex. A 2010 study found that the bench press has been implicated in shoulder injuries including osteolysis, soft tissue strains and tears, anterior instability, and dislocations, and that the lowering-eccentric phase of the movement was responsible for many of the injuries particularly when the arm was lowered below the torso. (Kolber 2010, Morey 2010). This had lead to recommendations such as decreasing the Range of Motion of the exercise and finish the descent phase 4-6 cm above the chest to possibly mitigate the risk of injury. Haupt (2001).
However, there is no actual evidence demonstrating that bench pressing through a full range of motion (as recommended by the ACSM) is inherently dangerous for most individuals (see the arch set-up of the bench). In fact, restricting range of motion may decrease flexibility, strength, and joint adaptations through the omitted range of motion, thereby potentially increasing risk of future injury.
Strength Training performed through a full range of motion has been shown to increase and maintain joint flexibility (Morton 2011, Souza 2013), while decreasing if shoulders do not travel through full range of motion (until slight stretch or pull is felt through shoulder or chest, while maintaining shoulder retraction) unless specific stretches or movements are performed to supplement program compromised by limited range of motion, hence increasing the risk of injury.
Bottom line: Exercising through a full range may be the only means of maintaining flexibility through the Pectoralis major and minor for most individuals engaging in weight training.