Hanging by my arms helps my shoulder pain

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/04/16/hanging-by-my-arms-helps-my-sh.html


@jlw This is not for us lay people, but medical professionals, however, as with most Curbsiders episodes, if you are dealing with an issue they discuss, you will benefit of knowing what the latest best practices for medical professionals are and what is just old habit or new but shown to be ineffective in the practice. (My shoulder AC joint thanks me for listening to it every day :slight_smile:

Sports medicine specialist Dr. Carlin Senter MD. We discuss her simplified approach to the basic shoulder exam, including when and how to do special tests, high yield exam maneuvers, when to refer shoulder pain patients to orthopedic surgery, and who can be managed conservatively.

(for what it is worth, I listened to this one with my college anatomy text open so I could follow the muscles and tendons of the rotor cuff as they discussed them.)


Ha ha – wow, I can’t believe you wrote this today! For the past couple months I’ve had shoulder pain too, evidently from SLEEPING. I was joking with a co-worker about how the reward of reaching middle age is “sleep injuries.” Jesus. Like you, I have tried with little success to sleep on my back; my brain/body absolutely does not want to do it. I have a chin-up bar in my basement and will start hanging on it today.


Perhaps just a change in your routine…


Seriously though, makes sense.


remind me to not ask for your help for my neck pain


I have arthritis – genetic not because of bad habits (I don’t know if this matters or not, mine is based around an autoimmune disorder). Years ago, I found out rock climbing was the thing that helped my joints. Something about hanging off of surfaces and letting my weight pull my joints apart as opposed to shoving them together was AMAZING.

My rheumatologist was against me climbing at first, but the effects were profound enough that it ended up being something she would ask about if it looked like I was regressing at all. Tore a muscle a few years ago, never said anything – it wasn’t a joint nor a bone so I didn’t say anything to her about it. Recently she made me go through rehab just so I could get back to the climbing gym and for the moment, I’m just at hanging from a bar trying to get my finger strength up again.

My wrists and the rest of the arms haven’t felt this good in a few years. That said, I’d talk to a physician before doing this – even though mine originally told me no.


In a better world, I would have gone to get my shoulder checked shortly after the injury. In the real world, I didn’t, so I have a poorly healed minor rotator cuff tear that makes sleeping on my side uncomfortable. Fortunately, all my arm and wrist injuries have occurred on that side, so I just avoid doing stuff on my left side in general.


i had a constant, knifey pain deep in my right shoulder for over a decade, and no matter what i tried, i was never able to relieve it. an acquaintance who specializes in thai massage and trigger point therapy convinced me to let him try. turned out that it wasn’t in my shoulder at all, but referential pain from the scalene muscles on the right side of my neck. after forty minutes of working on them, the pain was gone, and thirteen years later, hasn’t returned. not very good job security on his part.


This works for my trick back as well. Doesn’t feel as good as codeine, brandy and a nice, long lie-down, but it works.


I too suffer from sleep related shoulder pain (side sleeper). I’m giving this a try. Thanks for sharing.


I will try hanging from the pull-up bar as soon as I’m back from traveling after reading this, but one more import question: many seem to have „sleep related muscle, joint or nerve pain“. Soo not sleeping straight on the back is the common denominator? How come sleeping like a crime scene chalk drawing never was a problem and suddenly is? Any science on „the right way to sleep“?
I can’t even remember the last time I woke up not feeling like I had been in a discussion with The Ultimate Warrior all night long …


As a side-sleeper I had this same problem. For me the solution is to sleep with my arm pointed straight out from my body and bending my elbow to put my hand on the other shoulder. This takes the pressure off of the shoulder joint and gently stretches the ligaments. It took only a couple of nights for my shoulder pain to go away. So far it’s been one hundred percent effective and I’ve been pain free for six years.

Unfortunately, my right hip joint is starting to show the same problems and I haven’t figured out how to prevent that other than to sleep on my left side.

I don’t like to admit that I’m getting older but “sleep injuries” are presenting a pretty compelling case.


If you google “over the door shoulder pulleys”, you can get something cheap that also does traction that allows you to use your other arm to control the pull. If you can’t hang from your arms without pain, this may be helpful. Check with your MD/PT/DC.


Hanging from a bar also helps tremendously if you overdo bicep curls. I’ve found that just a couple or so minutes of hanging can magically relieve the pain.


for side-sleepers with shoulder problems, some companies make weird pillow systems that might help

The one above is from “MedLine” and costs a fortune, but there must be cheaper wedge pillows with similar shoulder-friendly openings.


Eeyup, cross your arms across your chest and be sure to switch sides occasionally. If your mattress is old and you feel like you’re falling in on one side then get a new mattress, or at least shove something under the low spot.

As I type this, I am icing my shoulder, because I have impingement in that now. I used to have it on the other shoulder and with exercise and PT that got well, but the new problem in the other shoulder is more stubborn. The hanging method sounds promising, but personally, I’d consult a doc or therapist before trying any new exercise for this problem.

I have done a similar thing to myself…

I found that suspending myself using the affected arm, gripping something bar-like at a height where I could decide how much of my weight I put on it, and slowly rotating back and forth around the grip for a minute or two a couple of times a day did very quick wonders for getting whatever was pinched, unpinched. All better in two days.

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