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Hanging for Shoulder Pain and Low Back Decompression (VIDEO)

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Okay, today I suppose I’m trying to outdo myself for “old schoolishness”!

This is a protocol I’ve been using to help restore function to my injured shoulder, as well as to help decompress my spine. WATCH VIDEO.

I tweaked the shoulder a year ago doing bench dips. I overextended the movement, which isn’t that hard to do, it’s one reason why the exercise—and regular dips too—can be dangerous to the shoulder girdle.

Don’t get me wrong—dips can be an excellent chest, shoulder, tricep, and serratus anterior muscle (over and above the ribcage) exercise. But you have to be very careful not to overstretch the shoulder muscles and tendons on the way down.

There are many exercises and methods to rehab or strengthen the shoulder. I’ve used some, and they are effective. And keep in mind that shoulders typically take a fair amount of time to get better.

The Bar Hang!

But the simplest protocol (by far) that I’ve seen to bring the shoulders back into condition is the good ole bar hang. I found an interesting book written by a retired orthopedic surgeon named Dr. John Kirsch, MD.

Dr. Kirsch became weary of seeing so many people get shoulder surgeries, he believes, in many cases (but not all) unnecessarily.

Of course, if you have a shoulder injury, you should have it checked out by a professional, and get a second opinion if possible. But Dr. Kirsch believes that a person should make sure that surgery is absolutely necessary before diving in.

The reason Dr. Kirsch recommends bar hanging is because (per his website): “When engaged, the humerus (upper arm bone) leans on the acromion bending this structure, providing more room beneath the acromion. This leads to healing sub-acromial impingement syndrome, frozen shoulder and rotator cuff tear symptoms.

Go to his site and see the image yourself (scroll down) to best understand (a picture is worth a thousand words, as they say). And buy his book (I’m not making any money from this link, fyi) to get more detail on why and how this works, and to read the many testimonials of people who have helped repair their injured shoulders.

As I said, in my particular case, my shoulder has healed slowly, but since I’ve incorporated the hanging per Dr. Kirsch’s instructions, it’s headed in the right direction.

How and How Often to Hang

Everybody is different, but it’s clear that—like almost everything in life—that more frequent practice (assuming recovery in between sessions) is best (meaning a person may need to do the exercise up to daily for best results). I explain this further in my video. And I would not start by hanging with full weight, but have the feet on the ground or something else to assist you. And start slow, such as doing one set of hanging for ten seconds, and work your way up.

Supplemental Exercises

Dr. Kirsch also recommends supplemental shoulder exercises with light dumbbells, as I also demonstrate in my video.

If you have pain or reduced movement in your shoulders, I would at least go to Dr. Kirsch’s site and pick up his book. Give it a good read, and if everything makes sense to you, and you’re physically able to hang, then give it a try. This is not guaranteed to work for everyone, but Dr. Kirsch states that it works in a high degree of cases.

You may just find something really simple that may help you reduce pain and restore proper shoulder function. And that will improve your entire quality of life and allow you to work and play again without serious limitations.

To your Health and Fitness,


Patrick Rooney is the Founder of Its focus is natural health and independent living. Patrick is the author of GREEK PHYSIQUE: The Simple, Satisfying Way to Sculpt Your Body—Even if You’re Old, Weak, or Broken Down; and is also the creator of Greek Yoga™ and the Greek Yoga for Beginners video. He offers health and fitness consulting in-person in Middle Tennessee and worldwide via phone, Zoom, and Skype. To reach Patrick, email him at [email protected].

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