Typically the incline bench can have variable positions between 30 and 45 degrees. As the angle increases the more activation of the upper pectoralis major with assistance from anterior deltoid and triceps brachii. The NCSA recommends a 90 degree flexion at the elbow when performing bench press. However, some people may not have the shoulder mobility to achieve this. In this case you would want to modify the depth of the action.
I would also suggest doing some progressive shoulder function exercises. Lee Burton, ATC, CSCS is a good source. Also you may want to refer to an article by Louver titled Influence of bench angle on upper extremity muscular activation during bench press exercise.
when I have a client with shoulder issues, I am particularly careful with the bench press. I usually include exercises for the rotator cuff; your client may have some of those already from a physical therapist.
Because I coach my clients that they should not bring the elbows below shoulder level, I often start them on the floor where this is not even a possibility. Having the upper arms in a straight line from elbow to elbow is usually the bench press position but, with shoulder issues, the client may find a pain-free range of motion when the elbows are dropped a little closer to the waist.
It goes without saying to start with low weight and a moderated number of reps. Check with the client the next day to find out about any discomfort after the exercise session.
Good luck with the client.
Hello Arlene Cherry-Medicoff,
You will do best to wait for the pain to leave before doing shoulder work. If cleared by the doctor for exercise, try different moves in different positions without resistance to find the pain free ROM position that will work. Do this move slowly and carefully, increasing reps before using external resistance. Then still proceed with much caution. Slow and steady wins the race.
Natalie aka NAPS 2 B Fit.