T Nation

Chins Injury

Hi folks,

I’ve got a niggling injury just to the right of my upper back, between my spine & right shoulder blade that I got doing chins a good year ago now. After I injured it my neck seized up and i had a lot of pain looking side to side and dipping my head forward…

I’ve seen physical therapists for this but all they did was massage it & put ultra sound on it. I saw three different people, and when I asked what exercises to avoid they just said, don’t do chins for a while & couldn’t really tell me any more, and couldn’t prescribe any rehabilitative work that actually made it better.

The niggle is feeling better now, just from avoiding chins for so long, and i’m keen to start again (I can barely do more than 2 or 3 in a row now, where I could just get out 10 before) but I’m concerned I’ll damage what I damaged before.

Has anyone heard of people injuring their necks like i’ve described doing chins? If so do you know what was done to strengthen the region before chins were recommenced? The chins I was doing were bodyweight with overhand shoulder width grip.

I’m having trouble working out how a lat & bicep dominated exercise like chins injured my traps or any of the muscles that surround the upper thoracic region.


I had the same problem on and off for about a year. You are probably straining your neck to get over the bar, rather than pulling your body up further. At least that is what I figured I was doing. I started doing them with my head leaning back, looking up more towards the ceiling and haven’t tweaked it since.

If you are currently sore from it, tilt your head back and squeeze your shoulderblades together, it seems to loosen the tension. Wrestler bridges help a little.

Get a foam roller (Big Boss pool noodle) and place it length wise under your spine with the end of it at the base of your skull. Just lay there and relax for about 10 minutes.


Vesson, I have the same injury. I noticed my upper back/lower neck area being slightly sore after a hard chin-ups workout one day. A week later I started off with some light pull downs to warm up. The soreness was gone, and it hadn’t bothered me doing other exercises during the week, so I didn’t think anything of it. I didn’t make it through more then a couple reps, as I had clearly just injured something.

Throughout the week after the injury, my upper neck became very stiff and painful and had essentially locked up just as you said.

Obviously I had to take a few weeks off from the gym altogether, because anything I did inflamed the injury. Before this I had been doing chin-ups and pull downs for over a year without problems.

I have always read and heard that (after adequate healing time) getting back into it gradually with light load and higher reps is a good way to start strengthening. I am not exactly qualified to make any kind of recommendation though, so hopefully somebody more knowledgeable can step in and give some rehab advice for both of us.

Hey bud

I had an injury that is unrelated to chins, but effected the same area of my body. It was a rotator-related muscle tear(s) and I experience(d) the same tightness/pains in my upper back, traps, shoulder blade region.

Face pulls will save you. Strengthening your upper back when you can (do lots of light weight CSRs until the pain fades, then work up). I don’t recommend stretching between sets- Alwyn explained why this makes no sense. Only stretch it out if your back/neck start to hurt, and cease all lat work for the day.

IF you’ve seen Vogelpohl XXX there is a movement he performs on a lat machine that is a combination of a pulldown and a pull over. This will strengthen the region where you feel the pain near your shoulder blade. I don’t know if you have access to this vid, but if so perform this movement often with light weights. I include it as part of my bench warm up (2 sets of 20 reps of the pulldown/over and 2x20 on the face pulls).

i hope this helps, IM me if you want more details or if i was unclear.


I have had a similar problem too - I’m not sure what to make of it myself.

I am convinced I got this injury because I attempted to “jerk” myself up the bar, or attempting to pull myself up after I have known I have reached failure. This is VERY dangerous. Fortunately I regained full strength after a workout or two. I started doing chines 3 days after the pain subsided completely, and I am expereincing no farther problems.

A word of warning, dont look at DieselWeasels videos for chins training.