T Nation

Can't Do Pullups

The title basically sums it up. A couple of years ago I injured both my shoulders and now they pop out of place whenever I put too much pressure on certain parts of them. Pullups are the prime example of this. Me hanging causes my shoulders to pop out of place, and then to pull myself up I have to pop them back into place. This hurts like Hell. I’ve tried manning it out and ignoring it for the past few months, but as a result of my injury my pullup strength hasn’t really gone up at all. This is a real shame because pullups are a great exercise…

Are there any exercises that will give you similar results to pullups but won’t cause me to pull out my shoulders on every rep?

Just curious, do you have an assisted pull up machine at your gym? Maybe it could help to take some of the weight of?

Dont try to ‘man it up’. You clearly have an injury so dont aggravate it. Strengthen the musculature around your shoulders as you can and consult with a physiotherapist who can see your shoulders in person and knows more than us. For me, doing a lot of posterior deltoid and rotator cuff work (all light weight hypertrophy style stuff) helped a lot. Stuff like rear delt flys, cuban press and facepulls for high reps helped me. I hope this helps in some way and I hope your injury clears up!

EDIT: Didn’t read your question properly! Lat pulldowns if you can, barbell and dumbell rows should help you improve your physique, obviously if they are pain free movements

@JohnMariette Yea there is one but then it becomes to easy unless I put the weight on the machine at 0, but then the thing that goes under my knees goes up too slow and I end up hanging anyway. Plus whenever I use those things I always bang my feet or knees on it.

@dave14 Wow thanks man that was a lot of stuff. Honestly I didn’t thing the problem could be “fixed.” I went to a doctor for an MRI for my collarbone a few months ago and I showed him my shoulder and he said it just meant that it meant that I injured my shoulder sometime in the past. He didn’t sound too worried so I wasn’t. Anyways yea thanks for the advice I already do rows, behind the head eye-presses, deadlifts and good mornings to help my back get stronger. How light weight would you suggest for the recovery stuff, the classic 3 sets of 8? Or something more like 1 or 2 sets of 15 to 20?

OP are you saying both your shoulders dislocate when you are performing a pull up?

Yea both of them do. They dislocate when I’m hanging then painfully relocate when I pull back up.

If they indeed dislocate you are stretching the joint capsule more and more everytime you dislocate them. Which means they will dislocate more and more easily and not just when you perform a pull up.

If I were you and they do dislocate I would be avoiding everything that causes dislocation. You can also sustain brachial plexus injuries from relocating shoulders incorrectly. After dislocation conservative management is to immobilise in internal rotation for 2 weeks in a sling. Gees mate, you probably need to see someone for your problem.

When did they first dislocate? What were you doing? How many times have you dislocated them?

Well it’s not a full dislocation I don’t think. They just kind of pop out of place. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but I know at least that it was in wrestling practice about a year ago. At first it just kind of burned, then after a few days of that it started popping out when I did things like pullups.

Well I didn’t want to be a dick and say it was unlikely you had a full dislocation because you would have struggled to pull yourself back up. However you could still have subluxed shoulders which equates to pretty much what I said in my earlier post, repetitive stretching of the capsule will equal instability and a myriad of other problems.

You need to work on shoulder stability. I advice to seek out some professional guidance in that matter.