shoulder pain

Isometrics for Better Handstand Positioning

Isometrics for Better Handstand Positioning | Movement Fix Monday

This is part 3 in the 'un-sexy' series on how to improve your positioning using isometrics (see part 1 and part 2 for more isometrics). The full part 3 write-up is here. 

This time we are talking about handstands and focusing specifically on the over-arching of the low back that is extremely common during handstands and overhead lifting.

"Most commonly in a handstand with excessive arching, the thoracolumbar junction get's used and abused. Thoracolumbar is just a fancy way of saying 'where your thoracic spine and lumbar spine meet'."

Developing a quality handstand will have great turn over to other exercises. The ability to achieve full wrist and thoracic spine extension, coupled with shoulder flexion while simultaneously supporting your body, has tremendous transferability to handstand push-ups, handstand walks and Olympic weightlifting. The handstand is what is known as an isometric exercise. Isometric exercises are a great way to build strength while decreasing your chance of injury. Performing an isometric exercise requires activating all of your motor units and at the same time producing a balanced contraction on both sides of the joint so no joint shearing, or increase in inflammation, occurs. Essentially handstands increase strength while reducing the chance of shoulder injury! 

Negative Muscle Ups for Better Transition

Negative Muscle Ups for Better Transitions | Movement Fix Monday

When Dr. Debell was in Boston a couple months ago I had the pleasure to film a 4 part series with him on the topic of isometric exercises. 

Ryan titled it the "Un-Sexy Video Series on Improving Positions Using Isometrics and Eccentrics." The idea for the series was developed after Ryan got in a few training sessions with me and was interested in the gymnastic strength work I was doing. It started with a discussion on how if people were less concerned with quantity and more about quality. These exercise while not as exciting as swinging from a pull-up bar can be beneficial to any athlete. Dr. Debell accurately put it....

"Getting weak people to kip up into a muscle up without ever having developed the strength (both of muscle and connective tissue) will lead to short term excitement but long term problems." 

Check out the first video, as well as the full write up here on Ryan's website. 

Biggest Bang for your Buck Mobility

Biggest bang for your buck mobility | Part 2 

“Dude, I've hung three straight days for a cumulative of 5 minutes at a time and I shit you not I already feel a difference in my upper back and shoulder.  Crazy shit.”

Continuing our series with biggest bang for your buck exercises. If you missed last week check it out here. Moving on we are talking about hanging. Yes I am asking you to do more than just lay there this week.


In one movement we are addressing shoulders, elbow, wrist, hand and spinal health. Seems like a pretty good “bang for your buck” exercise. I am going to pick on the desk jockey once again. He is sitting in a hunched forward turtle position all day long. Gravity is doing its thing having his body adapt to this position. Now that you have pictured that person, think about your position when hanging, basically the complete opposite position of that. With once again gravity doing all the work to open everything up that has been closed off.

Where do we start with this? This is most likely going to be a very stressful and or uncomfortable position on the entire body at first. A few ways to minimize this is partial hangs (see picture below) This allows your body to slowly begin to adapt to the new stresses or increase demands.

There are a variety of grips an athlete can utilize with hanging. For simplicity sake let’s start with either a neutral grip(palms facing each other) or pronated(palms facing away) grip as these are the two most less stressful position to put the rest of the body in. I think Ido Portal summed up hanging with this quote

“Avoid pain, aim to strain, no strain no adaptation. Proceed with caution, it is better to underdo then overdo.”

The call to action for this week is ACCUMULATE 7 MINUTES A DAY over the next week and see how your shoulders feel. This should also not be 7 minutes all at once but accumulate throughout the course of the day. A typical day looks like this for me; 3 x 60 seconds in before noon while at the office(and yes my office is in a gym so I have multiple pull-up bars to hang from) I will perform 1 x 60 pre and post WOD. Lastly I will accumulate 2 x 60 seconds in the evening before going to bed(yes I have installed rings in the ceiling of my Boston apartment, don’t tell my landlord) Make it a habit so I can start getting more emails like the one above.




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