One of the best stretches you can do is to dead-hang from a bar. According to John M. Kirch, one of the worlds leading orthopaedic surgeons, hanging for 30 seconds three times per day can cure or prevent 99% of all shoulder pain. Hanging from a bar will open up the shoulder joint, improve mobility and strengthens the shoulder.
Kirch came to this conclusion by noticing the similarity of the human’s shoulder join to that or the great apes. These apes still brachiate; hand and swing from trees, and adapting this practice into our own lives will allow the shoulder to do what it is designed to do.
If you were chased by a tiger up a tree, the muscles you use to hang on to the branch for a long time are tonic muscles. If you decided to chase a deer and throw rocks, you would use your phasic muscles.Dan John
Regular hanging can help with hunched over posture too. Doctor Vladimir Janda, a neurologist and exercise physiologist, when studying posture separated muscles into two groups; tonic muscles that shorten with age and phasic muscles, which weaken with age. The tonic muscles include By stretching the tonic muscles and strengthening the phasic muscles; we can improve posture and reduce the likelihood of pain from long hours of sitting hunched over a laptop or slumped on a sofa.
Working on a University campus, I used to spend a lot of time walking between buildings for meetings and would regularly hit 10,000 steps without thinking about it. At the time of writing, I have been working from home for the last seven months. All my meetings are video calls in front of a computer in my spare bedroom with no forced transit every 50 minutes. With walking no longer a natural part of my day, and spending most of my working day sitting down with less than graceful posture, I have had to find ways to introduce physical activity and stretching to the natural gaps.
Adding it to my routine
For every day I work from home I am finding three times when I can hang from a door mounted pull up bar I bought from Amazon for less than a week’s worth of petrol. In an ideal world, I aim to do the first 30-second hang when I wake up, the second when I break for lunch to get the 4-5 hours of sitting in front of a computer out of my back, and the final 30 seconds when I finish in the evening to stretch off the day. The reality is messier, and I stopped using a timer after the first few days and go off feel and grip strength. The main thing is I am stretching regularly and can feel the difference in my back, chest, and posture.
Try the dead-hang for better posture and shoulder health
Grab a pull up bar, monkey bars, a tree branch, or anything else you can hang from with an overhand grip around shoulder-width apart and hang, allowing your shoulders to relax completely. If your grip can’t take 30 seconds straight away, do what you can and gradually work up to 30 seconds. Alternatively, you can rest your feet on a bench or the floor and use your legs to take some of the weight, gradually reducing the amount of weight until you can do 30 seconds hanging unaided.
Contact me on Twitter if you try this and want to share how it went. If you are interested in this and want to know more, I suggest you read ‘Shoulder Pain? The Solution & Prevention’ by John M Kirsch.