Vitamin M: Things that increase your awesomeness

by Llewellyn Morkel

This is the first edition of Vitamin M, the M stands for movement. In this series we will highlight simple things you can do daily to improve the quality of your movement. By moving better improve the quality of your life. In this edition we look at hanging.

So why hanging? Humans have monkey shoulders, but due to our daily lives we don’t do monkey stuff. As the saying goes if you don’t use it you lose it. The joy of the internet and the growth of movement culture gives us more resources than ever before. There are many great sources of information on hanging and brachiation. Ido Portal has a great article on hanging, which has videos and a challenge if you feel up to it. Well worth the read.

Hanging has many benefits. It strengthens the shoulder structures, strengthens your grip. Especially if you hang from different objects.

Different hanging grips

Different hanging grips

It improves shoulder mobility and decompress the spine. It improves your pull ups. Hanging is the foundation for pulling, many people do pull ups but not that many people do them well.

A note on safety:

If there is pain don’t do it, If you have a shoulder injury get it checked out by a professional.

 The Progression:

Like I said earlier ido portal has a great progression and variations. The 3 most important versions to use are:

The passive hang

Just hang from an object and accumulate time hanging.

Goal: 2min continuous hanging

The active hang

Start with 3 sets of 3 reps add one rep each time till you hit the goal.

Goal: 8 reps x 3 sets, with a 3 sec pause on each rep

Dynamic side to side hanging

Start with 3 sets of 10 seconds add 5 seconds each time you do it

Goal: 30 sec

The shoulder joint needs a lot of muscular stability because of its mobility. Our modern day lives limit our use of our shoulders and we end up losing capabilities that we should have. Athletes expect a lot from their shoulders. To do those high level movements, one needs a strong foundation. You might not need to hang or do many movements if you’re not an athlete, but that one time you have to use your shoulders in a different way. That will be the time when you wished you took care of yourself. Problems at the shoulder don’t stay at the shoulder. If your shoulders are dysfunctional your body will compensate to do what you want it to do. Compensate frequently enough and you create another problem. Then the problem becomes more complex to fix. Do one simple thing to improve your longevity and movement.

So as many times a day as you can Hang from something (at least once) Use your body like you were meant to. To quote Gray Cook “Movement only matters when you can’t move any more” Don’t let it get to that point.