In this article I wanted to invest some time going through the kipping pull-up, specifically whether or not it is accountable for shoulder and muscular injuries (SLAP tears, labrum issues, muscle strains, and customary overuse pains). Within the below sections we will first review the kipping pull-up movement demos, uncover who typically performs them (and why), and address various reasons why the kipping pull-up may leave you more susceptible to injury.
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Before we dive in, however, I wish to make clear this piece is not for or against kipping pull-ups, as nearly every single certainly one of us sooner or later has used the “kip” (either like a learned skill progression or as a natural skill progression). Carl Paoli points out in his book, Freestyle Connection, that nearly every beginner who fatigues at a strict pull-up quickly learns using their hips and momentum to obtain themselves to the bar. By doing this, they are able to learn valuable awareness and coordination of movement that may be applicable to other facets of movement. Having said that, in the following paragraphs we will discuss the most typical reasons as to why kipping pull-ups may be detrimental to your joints and tissues, most commonly due to lack of technique, readiness, and programming concerns.
The Kipping Pull-Up Exercise Demo
In the below video we learn how to properly carry out the kipping pull-up to maximise efficiency and stability within the movement. The key points to emphasize listed here are midline control, scapular strength and stability throughout the movement, and a controlled, fluid descent.
Who Does Kipping Pull-Ups?
As stated above, everybody who has failed at strict pull-ups yet desired to obtain a number of repetitions has done some form of “kip” to get at the bar. While the form and technique may widely vary, and frequently vary from the above mentioned technique video, the purpose of the kipping motion was the same- to make use of body momentum to assist in the ascent towards the bar.
In the formal sense, kipping pull-ups in many cases are observed in competitive fitness sports and WODs and gymnastics. The widespread development of both movement philosophies has led to the kipping pull-up making its distance to general fitness too.
Why Do Kipping Pull-Ups?
In an earlier article we discussed the advantages of performing the kipping pull-up, which you’ll read in detail here. In a nutshell, kipping pull-ups serve a purpose for some athletes (such as the ones below).
Muscular Stamina and Grip Endurance
Muscular stamina and grip endurance is essential to keep fit athletes, climbers, gymnastics, and other grip intensive sports. While there are a million methods to increase muscular and grip endurance, the kipping pull-up is a total body and dynamic movement that can mimic some sport specific (see below) movements and also have a good application to sport.
Whether you agree or disagree with kipping pull-ups, the very fact of the matter is that gymnastics and competitive fitness requires a sports athlete to be sufficient within the form and charge of the kipping pull-up. Failure to organize, teach, and train the movement correctly would be committing a disservice to an athlete who is committed to the sport.
Total Body Integrated Movement
When seeking to accomplish a task, such as get one’s body from Point A to Point B, we’ve natural and trained progressions that people can rely upon to complete the goal. Climbers for example, could use both a strict along with a kipping pull-up with respect to the nature of the task in order to move themselves up and over objects. The same thing goes whenever we move in life, as finding out how to dynamically slowly move the body in a fluid manner is helpful in accomplishing life’s tasks (however, in today’s world we discover less requirement for this style of movement, however this does not mean it’s not important). The kipping pull-up can provide a lot of people a much better, more efficient way to accomplish a movement task, and for that reason does provide some benefit when done correctly.
Can Kipping Pull-Ups Cause Injury?
In short, the kipping pull-up may be correlated with a few from the injuries seen in competitive fitness and general fitness populations. The main of injury isn’t necessarily due to performing the kipping pull-up, but rather for reasons such as individuals with pre-existing issues, poor programming and excessive training volumes, and/or insufficient technique.
4 Explanations why Kipping Pull-Ups May cause Injury
Below are four potential explanations why kipping pull-ups could cause injury when performed incorrectly. Note, that any movement done poorly will often lead to movement asymmetries, disorders, and compensation patterning that can lead to overuse injuries. While kipping pull-ups would be the focus of this article, it’s to point out that kipping pull-ups (and any other exercise) done poorly is the primary concern. When done properly (sufficient preparedness, technique, programming, and recovery), kipping pull-ups may or may not be an issue.
Lack of Scapular Stabilization
Inability to stabilize the scapulae during this ballistic movement will certainly create excessive stress on the shoulder joint and connective tissues. Proper scapular depression and control through the kipping movement is essential to not only fluidity in the kip, but for proper deceleration during the eccentric component of as soon as. For those who have difficulties with scapular control, try practicing these simple scapular stability/activation exercises prior to kipping work.
Increased Eccentric (and Total) Loading on Muscle Tissues
Due to the ballistic nature of this exercise, the lifter must have sufficient muscle mass and control of their body to face up to high amounts of loading and force placed upon the biceps and lats during the lengthening phase (eccentric) from the kipping pull-up. Failure to correctly load the lats and stabilize the scapula will often result in the biceps and lats taking excessive straining (due to the nature of the ballistic exercise and also the higher training volumes seen when programming kipping pull-ups).
Lack of Pre-Requisite Strength and Control
Like any movement, insufficient strength and coordination as someone is progressed into a far more advanced variation can result in high amounts of unnecessary/excessive strain to the muscle and connective tissues. Failure to have the necessary prerequisite strength, muscle hypertrophy, and movement control can frequently result in overuse injuries, movement imbalances, and instability (see reasons above).
Excessive Shoulder Joint Stress
All of the above reasons can lead to the acute overuse and chronic difficulties with the shoulder joint, elbows, and muscle groups. While the kipping pull-up, when done properly (see above) might not result in such issues, individuals who perform all of them with under optimal readiness, technique, and poor programming will likely develop some injuries specifically due to the kipping pullup (as it can certainly aggravate predisposed joints and connective tissues).
While we spent plenty of time discussing the gloomy of kipping pull-ups, and the injuries that are often associated with the movement, I want to inform you that there are still numerous advantages to the movement (discussed above), particularly when done correctly and with proper readiness. Coaches and athletes must determine the purpose of the kipping pull-up in their movement, instead of simply doing the work to do it. Movements like strict pull-ups, scapular stability, and functional strengthening exercises must occur before an individual can progress to more ballistic and demanding exercises.