Ask Dr. T: Pull Ups are Creating Pain Under my Shoulder Blades?


“Dr. T,

I love CrossFit and I have recently taken my strict pull ups to kipping and I am learning the butterfly kip.

Everything is going well with my form and technique but I have developed chronic pain behind my shoulder blade.

I spend a lot of time stretching and rolling on a lacrosse ball but I cannot find the right spot to make the pain go away. I know that my form is getting better but the pain continues.

Is there a way to keep progressing these skills and eliminate the pain without stopping completely?”

 — Patti (Northampton, Ma)

Patti, it is time to learn about shoulder STABILITY.

To understand why you have shoulder pain working on your pull ups, you need to understand the differences between mobility and stability.

Mobility is the shoulders ability to move through a full range of motion. If you have tight muscle and connective tissue, getting your arm over your head will be limited by the length of that tissue. This is what you are working on with the lacrosse ball.

Stability is the joints’ ability to control movement throughout that range of motion.

Beginning the journey into kipping pull ups is an exciting time. You’re getting better, faster, and the changes happen fast. Sadly, there is often shoulder pain that can occur if you jump in too fast or with too much volume.

The kipping pull up relies heavily on shoulder stability. A stable shoulder allows the pulling motion to come from the lat versus the bicep. If you do not have that connectivity and you add power to the movement through your hips, you will not be able to engage the largest muscle in your back, your lats.

Shoulder pain is a symptom of the lack of stability you have in your shoulder. As you add power to the pull up, the connective tissue becomes the big mover vs. the muscle tissue leading to inflammation and pain.


All is not lost. Mastering stability in the shoulder is a simple process that you can practice every morning. This six-minute morning routine is designed to eliminate shoulder pain, create stability in the shoulder, and help you train pain free. Pain free kipping pullups are one, simple click away.

To gain instant access to The Shoulder Fix morning routine, click the link below.

Thanks for reading!


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