Ringing out your Shoulder Pain

I like inverted rows.

A lot.

They feature strongly in a lot the programs I write, and if you ask my honest opinion, they’re the only reason you would justify splashing out on one of those over priced suspension trainer / TRX jobbies.

I have one TRX unit in WG.

It gets used almost exclusively for this drill.

But I’m also fussy as to how we perform the drill.

ALL bent arm pulling actions, be it a bent over row using a barbell, kettlebell, dumbell, in inverted row, a cable row or even a pull up, must start with a pull from the shoulder blades.

The inverted row on the rings (which are cheaper and more useful than a trx…) gives us the best opportunity to really work this and go through a massive range of motion.

Have a look at this clip of Karolina working the row:

Notice how she relaxes the shoulder at the bottom allowing the shoulder blades to spread.

on the pull, she initiates by retracting the shoulder blades (scapulae) and taking an in breath.

This lifts the chest out, you’ll see as this happens the hands rotate slightly as a result of the movement at the scapular.

Then she bends the arms while keeping the shoulder blades “in her back pocket”

The pull stops either when her hands are in her armpits OR when she can no longer keep the scapular locked back and down.

The hands will continue to rotate through the pull, again this is not done consciously, it is a natural part of the movement and should be allowed happen, rather than made happen.

The whole time there is tension in the abdominals.

On the lowering portion, the arms first straighten before we release the scapular. You MUST lower with control, especially in the last part.

This extended range of motion we get a much greater hit into our lower traps and rotator cuff. The more freely the arms can rotate, the better we stay out of our upper traps and better activate the target muscles.

And the target muscles are the very ones that most people struggle to get to. The vast majority of folk are upper trap dominant, which is why this exercise features strongly in so much of what we do here.

Being upper trap dominant and not being able to access those lower traps and open up the chest is a very common cause of shoulder pain.

It is a central lift of the Fighting Back program written for our BJJ crowd, but I’ve yet to meet a person from any background that wouldn’t benefit from more time under the rings.


Click the image for more info

Click the image for more info


Dave Hedges

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