Hanging to “stretch” the Coraco-acromial Ligament
A cadaver study demonstrated that the humeral head contacts and “stretches “ the coraco-acromial (CA) ligament during shoulder flexion and abduction (Yamamoto et al 2010).
Dr. John M. Kirsch, an orthopaedic surgeon suggests that hanging is the single best method of stretching the CA arch expanding the subacromial space.
Although his study is not published, in his book “Shoulder Pain? The Solution & Prevention” he illustrates CT Scans of how hanging actually stretches the CA ligament. He also claims that regular hanging can remodel the acromion by pushing the acromion superiorly and increasing the size of the subacromial space.
He also reports of 99% cure rate for his patients with shoulder impingement syndrome; therefore avoiding the need for acromioplasty. There is however no study to date to substantiate his claims.
The theory is, we descended from apes but no longer use our bodies like apes do.
“Man is the fifth great ape,” said Dr. Kirsch.
“The others are the gorilla, chimpanzee, orangutan, and gibbon, all of which still swing from trees or brachiate. When we came down from the trees about 3,000,000 years ago, we stopped brachiating. But we still have the shoulders of an ape that’s supposed to brachiate.”
Instructions to hanging:
Palms must be facing forward.
You may start with the feet supported on the ground.
Expect the shoulder to hurt during the hanging, but no worse afterwards
Hang for 5-10 seconds …as tolerated
Repeat 5-10 times …as tolerated
Perform twice a day
In addition, you must still do shoulder strengthening exercises (e.g. shoulder press)
Results seen in 6 weeks
Hypermobile shoulders e.g. Multi-directional instability
Acute rotator cuff tears / acute post trauma
Adhesive capsulitis: Inflammatory phase and likely not tolerated during the freezing phase
Worsening of condition after hanging, so reduce load by decreasing time and/or unload by having support from the feet
Reference: Yamamoto N1, Muraki T, Sperling JW, Steinmann SP, Itoi E, Cofield RH, An KN. Contact between the coracoacromial arch and the rotator cuff tendons in nonpathologic situations: a cadaveric study. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2010 Jul;19(5):681-7.
Kirsch JM Shoulder Pain? The Solution & Treatment. 4th Edition 2013 available on www.amazon.com