grip training and shoulder injury

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  • #10237

    I have been training max grip as advocated in TFTFNA (hanging on 1 hand in your ice axe till you hold 30 seconds, then add weight). It is super effective for dry-tooling. The problem is that I now train with a 20 kg jacket and I have reach a point where it is getting painfull for my shoulder. I need to reinforce my shoulder muscles before I can add more weight and go further with my grip training. Which exercices would you recommend?

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    Anonymous on #10240

    Are you hanging on a relaxed, straight arm? Or with a slight flex at the elbow and shoulder?

    I don’t have any shoulder exercises to recommend, but with that much weight, I think it’d be prudent to engage the muscles across each joint to protect the joint.

    Perhaps a relaxed hang, rather than an engaged one, is what’s causing the problem?

    debourgknecht1 on #10247

    I think that it is indeed a factor… but I hava a hard time to engage the shoulder (especially with that much weight) while hanging on 1 arm.

    Anonymous on #10249

    Another thought: 20kg sounds like more than enough extra training weight. You could increase the challenged in a couple of ways that may help the shoulder (by reducing the weight):

    * Start using wooden dowels of various diameters instead of ice tools. (Attach a cord to one end so that the dowel can hang vertically.) As the dowel diameter increases, you’ll be forced to reduce the extra weight; and/or
    * Reduce the weight and increase the duration of each rep. This will move the training focus more toward the power endurance end of the spectrum which will be more sport-specific anyway.

    Anonymous on #10251

    Hi. I went through the ice mixed program, and did some of these same exercises. At the start, the hangs aggravated an old shoulder injury of mine (pain on the top of my shoulder). I backed off with the weight, and focused on hanging with my shoulder engaged, as suggested by Scott. After several weeks, combined with all the other training, not only was I able to hang pain free, but the pain from my old injury disappeared, and has not returned–I think the general and specific shoulder strength helped cure my old problem.

    Couple of points:

    First, if you are having pain, I would say, you have to back off, lower the number of sessions or the weight, or change something. This seems like an “of course” answer, but plenty of people might keep doing the same thing, push through the pain, and then get injured.

    I second (and third, and fourth) the suggestion to “engage” your shoulder when doing hangs. How do you do this? I have found different means of explanation helpful:

    1) Be aware of the space between the top of your shoulder and your ear–don’t let your shoulder rise and touch your ear. Keep your shoulder down, or keep space between your shoulder and ear.

    2) Think about squeezing and egg or a tennis ball, under your armpit. This will help you keep your arm down. Come to think of it, you could even try to hold a tennis ball under your arm (trying to hold an egg might not be the best idea?)

    3) Think about engaging your back muscles, squeezing your shoulder blades together.

    4) Keep your elbow slightly bent.

    In my experience, all of these things make the grip strength training harder. In some way, they transfer the hardest part of the exercise from the grip to other parts of the hand/arm/shoulder chain, which might not be ideal to maximally isolate grip strength, but in a functional sense, you are only as strong as the weakest link.

    Hopefully some of these suggestions/visualizations/concepts will help you keep your shoulders engaged.

    OK, good luck,


    debourgknecht1 on #10298

    Thanks for the tips guys!
    I will try to lower the weight a bit and work with more shoulder engagement. Sounds that it is the weak link right now…

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