My client has a diagnosed torn cartilage in his chest from doing flyes. What type of exercises should I try?
Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, there is no great answer. Any time there are injured parts involved, it becomes a personal tolerance and preference issue. You mentioned that you thought your client should probably do his chest exercises on the ball with lighter weights. I agree. The only thing I can really recommend is to have him do his exercises in an unstable environment. This will increase the neural demands and take away much of his ability to use heavy weights.
You may also have to decrease the range of motion used. It will always come down to how he feels while doing the exercise. Your client should be your guide. Only he really knows how it feels. I would actually try to have him do his pressing standing with cables. I would even challenge him more if he could do his presses while standing on only one foot. This will challenge the neural system even greater and force the loads to decrease even more. I only have one more question regarding the injury. How far down did he go when he was doing his flyes that caused him to tear his cartilage?
Did you know that there is little or no added benefit to the chest musculature in doing flyes rather than an actual pressing motion? The chest does not know what position the wrist is in when it produces force. As the client brings his arms further and further down, it does not benefit the chest to any degree. The load is transferred to the shoulder complex almost entirely and practically forces the humerus to anteriorly dislocate. I remember going to a Tom Purvis lecture where he said that when he was growing up, he was told to bring the dumbbells back until they touched the ground on either side of the bench!
Please remember that for every degree past about 10 degrees, the force on the passive structures goes up exponentially. I wish you the best in your future endeavors. I really think you are on the right track to use the stability ball and cables in more of your daily routines.