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Save Your Shoulders: Learn Your Push-Ups

Written on February 4, 2008 at 10:54 am, by Eric Cressey

Q: I have a 9-years old daughter whom I try to challenge from time to time to do things like push-ups, chins, pull-ups, etc. She was showing me the pushups the way their PE teacher teaches them, I tried it after that and felt it was very uncomfortable on my shoulders (granted I have nagging shoulder problems for last couple of years). Here is the technique she does it with:

– palms are little wider than shoulder width
– fingers are internally rotate – so they face each other, and she said that they are taught that “thumbs should be under their chest” – which makes elbows flair out in such a way that upper arms are perpendicular to the body.

She said that there was no discomfort, but isn’t that a similar position to the “bodybuilder” type of bench press which, I think, you and some other respected coaches pointed out as detrimental to the shoulder health?

A: I probably spend 15-20 hours per year teaching kids how to do push-ups correctly when they’re ages 15-18 because misinformed physical education teachers have taught them (or allowed them to practice) incorrect form like this. The torque at the glenohumeral joint is markedly elevated and scapular stability very compromised with the elbows-out technique.

This is just another example of how the best coaches are needed at the youth levels.

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