Hi Jennifer. I use them with several of my clients unless they are contraindicated by some condition or injury they might have. Like ANY exercise, this exercise can be made risky if not properly performed. With a limited range of motion, and the proper amount of weight this exercise is fine in my opinion. But again, they might not be for everyone so it’s up to the trainer to determine when and if this exercise is appropriate to use.
When I was younger and my joints were more flexible I had no problem with upright rows. As adults age this exercise can be problematic, because the shoulder is internally rotated not allowing for full range of motion, and possibly causing acromium greater tubercule connection. I do not recommend to clients, and my ortho doc advises against it.
Along with the Behind-the-neck shoulder press and behind-the-neck lat pulldown, one, if not the worst exercise once can perform with weights. I am a doctor and have been working out with weights for about 28 years. I haven’t done any of those exercises for the past 25 years BUT STILL was unable to avoid a recent arthroscopic shoulder surgery to repair a completely torn supraspinatus (Rotator cuff) tendon as well as debride (remove) several bone spurs that developed over the years.
I cannot tell you how many times EVERY TIME I work out at a gym I see people doing exercises they think are beneficial but long term are setting themselves up for problems and potential injuries (leg presses, leg extensions, shoulder lateral raises to name a few).
Make sure you choose a trainer that has exceptional knowledge of the musculoskeletal system, and the intimate knowledge of how to train muscles without risking injury.