How To Stop Your Shoulders From Popping During Pull Ups?

April 27th 2019

What should you do if your shoulders pop during pull ups?

Pullups are one of the biggest calisthenics exercises.

If you think about it, it is one of the most versatile movements that involve your wrists, elbows, shoulders and neck.

However, what does it mean if your shoulder is popping during pull ups?

Is this a form issue?

Let us find out.

Shoulder popping from doing pull ups

During pull ups, shoulder popping without pain should not be a big concern. However, as a general rule of thumb, fixing your posture will clear many shoulder issues you experience during workouts. Only then, you can focus on other issues such as rotator cuff strengthening or scapula mobilization.

Fix your posture to limit shoulder popping

You have a muscular imbalance if you have rounded shoulders.

If you try to do pull ups with bad posture, you will not have a good time.

Because your anterior muscles (pecs and front delts) are tight, they will overpower and take over the pull up movement.

As a result, you may experience popping and even pain.

There will probably be pain.

So, it is important that you try to correct your posture before doing any exercise.

You would not want to build a house on a bad foundation.

The same concept applies to your body. If your body is riddled with imbalances, weaknesses, and inactivity, you will not have a wonderful time strength training.

There are many postural, flexibility and mobility limitations that you will encounter.

So, how can we fix your rounded shoulders?

Point your chest to the sky

One everyday cue you can focus on is to point your chest to the sky.

You do not need to overly flex your chest and take in a deep breath.

However, we do not want our chest sinking and pointing to the ground.

So, make it a priority to point your chest up to the sky.

A good place to start doing this is when you need to work on a computer.

For a lot of people, they will spend countless hours in front of a computer.

Instead of hunching your back and rounding your shoulders, point your chest up to the sky.

Naturally, you will see that your shoulders will fall in place and that your back will be straight.

Door stretches

Because you have a muscular imbalance, you are creating shoulder popping from doing pull ups.

If you have bad posture, your pecs will be tight.

A good stretch to do is the door stretch for your pecs. Using your door frame, place both your arms in an L formation and step into the door frame.

Your arms should get caught on the door frame and you will want to try to still step forward.

This will cause you to stretch your pecs.

If your wingspan is not as wide as the door, you can do it one arm at a time.

With the L formation, walk into the door and try to get your chest past the door frame.

Your arms should be resting on the door frame while you stretch your pecs.

Clasping your hands behind you

Near your buttocks, clasp both of your hands together.

With your hands together, pull your shoulder backward.

Your neck and head should not move at this point.

When you move your shoulders backward, you should feel a deep stretch around your chest.

Stretch your upper back

Another area of concern can be your upper back and traps.

They can also get tight, which would restrict the mobility of your shoulder blades.

Get a foam roller or any other device you used in order to help your upper back and traps relax.

You can even use a Theracane to get into the hard to reach areas and also perform self-myofascial release.

This is something a foam roller can not do.

Rotator cuff strengthening + scapula mobility

If you look online, there will be many writers that tell you that you need to work on your rotator cuffs.

However, they do not provide you any link or video on which exercises are the best to do to strengthen your rotator cuff.

Part of the challenge is because many medical professionals need to physically see you in order to prescribe the right exercises to best help you strengthen your weak links.

At the same time, how do you really know who to trust?

Well, here is a FREE pdf of rotator cuff strengthening exercises that you can do at home.

At the same time, these exercises will also help work on your scapula (shoulder blade) mobility.

You can do all of these exercises while lying down, which is perfect for people who are busy and only have time at home to really work on fixing their shoulders.

Popping is okay if you have no pain

If your shoulder pops during pull ups with no pain, there should be no worry.

If there is a constant popping sensation with every movement, this may be a reason to visit a specialist.

However, if there is no pain associated with the movement, I would not worry too much about it.

Understand the nature of your shoulder popping

The shoulder joint is very complex.

There are many tendons, ligaments, and small muscles that can easily be strained, overworked or torn, which can cause you shoulder popping symptoms.

While more severe shoulder pops involve pain, more minor shoulder pops are not usually reviewed.

As a general rule of thumb, consult a professional if you are in pain.

Working out in pain is never a good idea and you will know when something is really off.

Annoying pain can also fall into this category since you are being impacted by the nature of your shoulder condition.

Final Thoughts

Shoulder popping during pull ups is not the end of the world.

There are many lifters who have ended their shoulder issues by implementing the suggestions written above.

Shoulder issues do not occur from thin air.

They are a result of bad movement patterns that have been reinforced by our daily habits.

Rounded shoulders and a sunken chest are two very common issues that can be corrected to prevent any shoulder problems from occurring.

So, as you are reading this article and finishing up this sentence, notice where your chest is pointing.

Is it pointing up to the sky?

Or is it pointing to the ground and you are hunched over like a goblin?

Correct it immediately.

Hold that position for at least one minute if you needed to correct your chest position.

Relax, do not tense your entire body up as you make this correction.

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