It is estimated that up to 80% of Americans will experience shoulder pain at some point in their lives. The direct and indirect cost of shoulder complaints exceeds 300 billion dollars. Thousands of hours a year are lost assessing, treating, and rehabilitating shoulders. While these are daunting numbers, there is a very simple, and very cost effective alternative to some shoulder problems.

Let’s start with some basic shoulder anatomy: The shoulder joint, aka the glenohumeral joint, is a ball and socket-like joint, similar to the hip. The head of the humerus (the “Ball”) articulates with the glenoid fossa (the “Socket”). 

The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the upper body. It is responsible for extension (arm straight behind you, flexion (arm straight above you), abduction (moving your arm straight away from your midline), adduction (moving your arm straight back towards your midline), internal rotation (rotation towards midline), and external rotation (rotation away from midline). Because of the shoulders high degree of mobility, it tends to have a lesser amount of stability. While this grants excellent freedom of movement, the decrease in stability makes the shoulder more prone to injury than other joints. If you have some sort of shoulder injury, or decreased mobility, try hanging!

Hanging for shoulder ailments was made “mainstream” by an orthopedic surgeon by the name of Dr. John Kirsch, M.D. He noticed his children swinging on monkey bars with ease, while he struggled to make it from rung to rung. He had struggled with shoulder pain, and decided to experiment on himself. He started hanging every day, and eventually resolved all of his shoulder pain. He then went on to write a book detailing his program “Shoulder Pain? The Solution and Prevention”.

If you’re experiencing any sort of shoulder pain or impingement, see if hanging can give you some relief. You can hang from a bar at the gym, a door at home, or even off a tree branch. If you’re not strong enough to do a full hang, start on your knees or with a box under your feet. Try and accumulate 2-3 minutes of hanging throughout the day; 10 seconds here, another 30 seconds there! You don’t have to try and burn yourself out with one or two big sets. Try a variety of grips: pronated (palms away), supinated (palms facing you), and neutral (palms facing each other). The main goal is to expose your shoulder joint to hanging and slowly accumulating new ranges of motion. Hang out and improve your shoulder health!