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Hanging By A Thread: One Movement Fix to Shoulder Pain

Hunched over from slaving away at the corporate demands? Stuck in Reddit threads for hours? You probably have shit posture and shoulder pain, but just like Sam from Holes...I can fix that or at least relay the message of Dr. John Kirsch to you.

Shoulder pain really stems from two issues, misalignment of the AC joint and underutilized/weak musculature . We can solve this with two small steps, hanging from a bar periodically and getting our posterior chain stronger.

Bar Hanging


Gravity is free and it is easy. Hang from a bar, palms facing away, over a 10-15 minute period in one session with 10-20 second intervals. You can do this assisted at first if needed by having a foot or two on the ground, but it is important to let gravity do its job.


Wolff's law essentially states that as you provide a stimulus enough times, an adaption will occur. So, our goal is to get healthy shoulders and in order to do that we need to realign the AC joint. I'm not going too much into the science for ease of read but for our purposes an AC joint that is misaligned is usually where we see dislocated shoulders, rotator cuff injuries, you name it. As you frequently hang, that realignment occurs.

Weight Training


At least 3 days a week I would look to reinforce the surrounding muscles of the shoulder, specifically working exercises like rear and lateral raises. We want to work both higher and lower rep ranges, but Kirsch recommends sets of 30-45 reps to focus more on ligament health. I would stick to bands for rep ranges this high based on the idea of constant tension and less intensive, especially if you are working with an injury already.


Strength is never a weakness, but a weakness can hurt you and probably did. Taking an exercise through full range of motion is a sure fire way to reinforce correct posture which is ultimately the starting point for any healthy human. Increasing the max strength of the full spectrum of muscles surrounding the shoulder with bar hanging is a great duo to restoring your health.

I hang from a bar as soon as I walk into the gym and throughout my sessions while placing an emphasis on reinforcing the surrounding muscles. It does not need to be fancy, but it does need to work and for me it has.

Here is a link to Kirsch's the book for purchase, happy hanging.

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