How to Fix Shoulder Pain With Kipping Pull-ups - The Barbell Physio


shoulder pain kipping pullups

How to Fix Shoulder Pain With Kipping Pull-ups

One of the most common problems I treat with CrossFit athletes is shoulder pain with kipping pull-ups. This injury can happen for several different reasons, as I discuss with my Performance Plus Programming partner, Pamela Gagnon.

Common Areas Leading to Shoulder Pain With Kipping Pull-ups

  1. Lack of strict pull-up strength: if you don’t have the ability to do 3-5 strict pull-ups, you won’t have the strength to control your bodyweight as you come down from the top of a strict pull-up. This will overload the soft tissues of the shoulder.
  2. Lack of good kipping form: too many athletes use a hip generated kip rather than controlling the kip using their shoulder. This results in them throwing extra force through the shoulder joint.
  3. Too much volume: as with anything, doing too much too fast will put more load on tissues than they are prepared for. This commonly happens with pull-ups.
  4. Doing even more advanced pull-up variations such as butterfly pull-ups before having the prerequisite strength and technique needed for that movement.

Drills to Help Reduce Shoulder Pain With Kipping Pull-ups

#1. Improve kipping mechanics

This first drill to help reduce shoulder pain with kipping pull-ups is from is great for teaching athletes to more effectively perform a kip swing by giving them something to push forward and backward into to improve the hollow and arch position while hanging from a bar.


#2. Improve hollow & arch mechanics on the ground

If your kipping mechanics are bad while hanging from the rig there is a good chance that you also need to address your hollow & arch control on the floor. Far too often, people look like they are doing a good hollow body position, but very frequently, they aren’t. I discuss this further in this article on my website and this CrossFit Journal article.


#3. Improve strict pull-up strength

As previously mentioned, if you can’t control a motion at slow speeds, you surely aren’t going to control them at faster speeds. Building strict pull-up strength is the key to maximizing performance and staying injury-free.

If you don’t have strict pull-ups yet I’d highly recommend our First Pull-Up Program, which has helped hundreds get their first!

I’d also recommend ditching the exercise bands and start doing toe assisted pull-ups as they do a better job building pull-up strength through the entire range of motion of the pull-up, whereas bands help too much as the bottom of the rep.

If you are dealing with shoulder pain with kipping pull-ups and need a structured rehab plan to get back into the swing of things, look into our options for scheduling in-person and virtual assessments.