Dead hangs for shoulder health?

Sysyphus

Talk Tennis Guru
A while back, I started hearing about dead hangs as an exercise for general shoulder health, also w/r/t impingement issues (a fairly common issue for tennis players).

The concept is simple: just hang from a (pull-up) bar and do nothing. At first I found the idea rather counterintuitive, seeing as when you're dealing with impingement, the last place you want to be is generally with your arms overhead. But the rationale is that by hanging, the space between the acromion (bony articulation of the shoulder blade) and the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) opens up, potentially relieving impingement. It may also stretch relevant muscles and thereby increase range of motion.

The idea was apparently popularized by an orthopedic surgeon named John M. Kirsch with this book. Anecdotal experiences seem abundant enough, mostly positive.

Does anyone have any personal experience, good or bad, with performing dead hangs for shoulder health / rehab? Or knowledge about its utility / inutility?

https://www.t-nation.com/training/tip-two-surprising-exercises-for-shoulder-health
 

LGQ7

Hall of Fame
I do it. It's called the Gorilla Hang in Jim Stoppani's Encyclopedia of Muscle & Strength. But I do it safely, with my feet on the ground or on a chair, taking half the weight off, and with 2 hands instead of 1 in the book.
 
I like it. I think the greatest advantage of it that it increases scapular mobility especially scapular upward rotation. This is very important for an overhead throwing motion like the serve because an upwardly rotated scap along with shoulder tilt means there is more space for the humerus.

 

WildVolley

Legend
I started a thread about this topic a number of years back https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/hanging-from-bar-for-shoulder-health.481965/page-2 after seeing the Kirsch book website online.

I've been doing dead hangs for about 6 years now as part of my standard tennis training and recovery. I believe it has helped me serve most days without pain, though I don't believe my shoulder has ever been 100% the same as before my injury.

I still get a stretch across my rib cage when hanging, but can dead hang for about a minute before pressure on my fingers becomes painful. I also use elastic tubing for rotator cuff exercises, mostly taken from the throwers 10, and I perform pull-ups and dead lifts for shoulder health.

In short, I think it is a useful exercise, and would suggest all tennis players include dead hangs as a regular maintenance exercise for tennis.
 

Sysyphus

Talk Tennis Guru
I like it. I think the greatest advantage of it that it increases scapular mobility especially scapular upward rotation. This is very important for an overhead throwing motion like the serve because an upwardly rotated scap along with shoulder tilt means there is more space for the humerus.

nice

Eric Cressey has some interesting stuff. I hear he played high school tennis, too.

I started a thread about this topic a number of years back https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/hanging-from-bar-for-shoulder-health.481965/page-2 after seeing the Kirsch book website online.

I've been doing dead hangs for about 6 years now as part of my standard tennis training and recovery. I believe it has helped me serve most days without pain, though I don't believe my shoulder has ever been 100% the same as before my injury.

I still get a stretch across my rib cage when hanging, but can dead hang for about a minute before pressure on my fingers becomes painful. I also use elastic tubing for rotator cuff exercises, mostly taken from the throwers 10, and I perform pull-ups and dead lifts for shoulder health.

In short, I think it is a useful exercise, and would suggest all tennis players include dead hangs as a regular maintenance exercise for tennis.
Cool, thanks, lot of contributions in that one!

Do you happen to know what particular shoulder injury you've been suffering from? Impingement-related issue?
 

Kobble

Hall of Fame
My serve was never better than when I was doing dead hangs. I also changed my mechanics, but I think it helped.
 

frank52

Semi-Pro
I "hang" and have no ill effects even with my shoulder tendon tears and scarring.

I do a modified version of what is in the Kirsch book. I hang with my feet on the ground but still hanging a fair amount of weight. I hang for two minutes and rest one minute. Repeat 3-4 more times. If I recall correctly, the Kirsch book research pictures show around 45 pounds of weight pulling on the shoulders while person is lying in MRI machine. So I try to hang with at least 45 pounds pulling on my hands. "Hypertension" journal had an article stating squeeze and hold a hand grip at 30% max for 2 mins on 1 min off for 12 minutes lowers blood pressure. So my particular hanging routine should keep my shoulder arch open as well as lower my blood pressure.
 

WildVolley

Legend
Cool, thanks, lot of contributions in that one!

Do you happen to know what particular shoulder injury you've been suffering from? Impingement-related issue?
I don't have a precise diagnosis of my shoulder injury. I was serving hard at the time and just overdid it. I believe I was going slightly high in the socket at contact and had slight impingement along with a partial rotator cuff tear. For some reason, slice serves particularly caused pain in the rear of the shoulder. At the peak of the injury, the area from my neck to my shoulder felt locked up.

I stopped serving for a while but was still experiencing pain while sleeping and engaging in overhead movement. The pain affected my posture and work, so I started spending more time researching ways to improve shoulder health.

I spend more time warming up my serve now. I limit my serve count during practice. And I do dead hangs during my after tennis stretching.
 

Kobble

Hall of Fame
I usually do that before pullups. I don't know if it helps but it loosens things up.
Really? I used to do it after pullup workouts. I haven't done pullups since 2014. When I stretched afterward, I was usually stronger than when I didn't. Maybe a 1/2 rep to 1 rep stronger. It is a good idea.
 

dman72

Hall of Fame
A few years ago I started doing them and they made my shoulder feel worse and more unstable. So I stopped.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
I just started doing them again. I was doing them in December but I thought that they were causing abdominal blockages so I stopped doing them. I've started and they are nice.

One thing though: I've never had shoulder problems.
 
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