I have heard in the past that pitchers should not lift weights directly over their heads due to the stress that is applied to the elbow. Is this a misunderstanding? or is it true?
I don’t know, I think it is a load of bull.
Certain exercises e.g. military press, shoulder press, behind the neck pulldowns, can cause something called impingement. This can lead to bursitis and even more problems. Herein lies the dilemma. Some are able to perform the exercise and not experience any problems. I personally have switched to the arnold press when doing any sort of overhead shoulder exercise. Behind the neck pulldowns should never be attempted just due to natural range of motion although I have seen some freaks who can do weighted pullups behind their heads. I would advise AGAINST the military press and maybe do something with a little more less incline. Also, separate dumbells promote balance compared to barbell work. With the other exercises you do the anterior deltoid should get enough work. And, you keep your bursa and rotator cuff. Win win?
Overhead exercises should probably be limited during in-season training. In the offseason, they provide an excellent balance to supine bench pressing, though Eric Cressey recommends that pitchers use DB press variants rather than straight barbell pressing variants. The reasons why are a little boring, but essentially it’s safer on the shoulder complex and it provides more stability work for the rotator cuff.