upright rows....are they safe?

  • Jerebear

    Posts: 329

    Jan 03, 2011 10:59 PM GMT
    I've been reading on various sites that upright rows can cause tendon damage and that you wont know that you are damaging them until you do and then its too late, however I've yet to find any studies that show this to be true. I do them with dumbbells, keeping my hands shoulder width and bring them up no further than my armpits. I hope that someone knowledgable here can shed some light on this for me and if they are dangerous, is there any compound movements that could replace them in my routine or will I be stuck with isolation movements like lateral raises? Thanks.
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    Jan 03, 2011 11:14 PM GMT
    people have been doing them for decades without problems and then there are people who do them and put there back out.

    The people who put there backs out usually did it with incorrect form.

    Correct form keeps you safe, do correct form.
  • Jerebear

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    Jan 03, 2011 11:22 PM GMT
    I described my form a little bit....does it sound to you like I have it right?

    because the form shown by various instructional sites does vary quite a bit. Some show the supposedly dangerous form which from what I understand is keeping your hands close together and bringing them to the neck.
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    Jan 04, 2011 12:04 AM GMT
    na, close grip and up to the neck is just fine, elbows up nice and high, feet shoulder width apart, trunk nice and solid by trunk I mean your abdominal area, your back and sides, no slouching you want a good posture.

    Best site for an explanation AND a visual is exrx.net

    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/DeltoidLateral/BBUprightRow.html

    Personally I find these uncomfortable with a barbell so I use an ezybar (it's got a curl happening in it) which keeps my wrists and arms at a slightly different angle and my shoulder is more comfortable.
  • Jerebear

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    Jan 04, 2011 12:15 AM GMT
    Thank you, yes thats a site I often refer to and trust because they back their information with citations. Plus, I prefer doing them that way because it feels less awkward. The EZbar is a great idea, thanks!
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    Jan 04, 2011 12:19 AM GMT
    it's a good site to use, I trust many of the explanations and form corrections. The forums there are pretty good too but there are a lot of hardarses on it hehe
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    Jan 04, 2011 1:16 AM GMT
    lilTanker saidna, close grip and up to the neck is just fine, elbows up nice and high, feet shoulder width apart, trunk nice and solid by trunk I mean your abdominal area, your back and sides, no slouching you want a good posture.

    Best site for an explanation AND a visual is exrx.net

    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/DeltoidLateral/BBUprightRow.html

    Personally I find these uncomfortable with a barbell so I use an ezybar (it's got a curl happening in it) which keeps my wrists and arms at a slightly different angle and my shoulder is more comfortable.


    Not true. This position will cause impingement syndrome in your shoulders. Shoulder shrugs with dumbells at your side are better.
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    Jan 04, 2011 1:18 AM GMT
    Just keep your elbows no higher than your shoulders and you'll be fine. Otherwise, it does put you at risk of impingement of the suprascapularis muscle.

    Shrugs aren't the same as the prime mover for the upright row is the deltoid, while the shrug is more for trapezius, though the upright row can work traps as well (though, you shouldn't really be shrugging much in the movement)
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    Jan 04, 2011 1:20 AM GMT
    bryanc_74 saidJust keep your elbows no higher than your shoulders and you'll be fine. Otherwise, it does put you at risk of impingement of the suprascapularis muscle.

    Shrugs aren't the same as the prime mover for the upright row is the deltoid, while the shrug is more for trapezius, though the upright row can work traps as well (though, you shouldn't really be shrugging much in the movement)


    Impingement risk is at the supraspinatus tendon. Upright rows are a terrible exercise.
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    Jan 04, 2011 1:23 AM GMT
    I have heard mixed report about their benefits/damage. Personally, I don't do them because my left shoulder makes this horrendous crunch when my elbows get close to even with my shoulders. I just know that can't be good.

    For shoulders I do military press, lateral raises, and shrugs and I like that routine.
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    Jan 04, 2011 1:27 AM GMT
    catfish5 said
    bryanc_74 saidJust keep your elbows no higher than your shoulders and you'll be fine. Otherwise, it does put you at risk of impingement of the suprascapularis muscle.

    Shrugs aren't the same as the prime mover for the upright row is the deltoid, while the shrug is more for trapezius, though the upright row can work traps as well (though, you shouldn't really be shrugging much in the movement)


    Impingement risk is at the supraspinatus tendon. Upright rows are a terrible exercise.


    I swear, I'm a doctor! icon_razz.gif Ugh, too much call makes me dopey. Yes, supraspinatus.

    However, I don't see where you get the impression that they're terrible if done correctly.
  • Jerebear

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    Jan 04, 2011 1:34 AM GMT
    bryanc_74Just keep your elbows no higher than your shoulders and you'll be fine.


    Thanks. The way I was doing them, keeping my hands shoulder width, it was uncomfortable to bring my elbows higher than my shoulders anyway. But close grip its easy to bring the elbows much higher. Is this why the close grip could be a problem in your opinion?
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    Jan 04, 2011 1:41 AM GMT
    Its going to be different for every person

    I just did them tonight. I have been doing them for along time. Listen to your body if its painful to do them, if you feel that pain (not soreness) the next day or two then maybe its not for you but done correctly its a solid excercise for the traps
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    Jan 04, 2011 1:44 AM GMT
    bryanc_74 said
    catfish5 said
    bryanc_74 saidJust keep your elbows no higher than your shoulders and you'll be fine. Otherwise, it does put you at risk of impingement of the suprascapularis muscle.

    Shrugs aren't the same as the prime mover for the upright row is the deltoid, while the shrug is more for trapezius, though the upright row can work traps as well (though, you shouldn't really be shrugging much in the movement)


    Impingement risk is at the supraspinatus tendon. Upright rows are a terrible exercise.


    I swear, I'm a doctor! icon_razz.gif Ugh, too much call makes me dopey. Yes, supraspinatus.

    However, I don't see where you get the impression that they're terrible if done correctly.


    Upright rows mimic the Hawkins-Kennedy test for impingement. That should tell you something DOCTOR.
  • Jerebear

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    Jan 04, 2011 1:48 AM GMT
    jerseywoof saidListen to your body if its painful to do them, if you feel that pain (not soreness) the next day or two then maybe its not for you but done correctly its a solid excercise for the traps


    My body loves them! Which is why I didnt want to give them up, but I was getting concerned by some of my research. In my original post I incorrectly mention possible nerve damage, but the other posters here are right, in that it is a tendon issue and from what I understand it can be very comfortable until it isnt and then its too late.
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    Jan 04, 2011 1:51 AM GMT
    Jerebear said
    jerseywoof saidListen to your body if its painful to do them, if you feel that pain (not soreness) the next day or two then maybe its not for you but done correctly its a solid excercise for the traps


    My body loves them! Which is why I didnt want to give them up, but I was getting concerned by some of my research. In my original post I incorrectly mention possible nerve damage, but the other posters here are right, in that it is a tendon issue and from what I understand it can be very comfortable until it isnt and then its too late.


    I did them for years. Had to eliminate them from my workout when I developed shoulder tendonitis (along with military press).
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    Jan 04, 2011 1:52 AM GMT
    catfish5 saidNot true. This position will cause impingement syndrome in your shoulders. Shoulder shrugs with dumbells at your side are better.

    True, it CAN cause impingement problems with your shoulder not will but so can lifting your arms above your head, shoulder injury that hasn't been properly managed or a multitude of things, just as squats and deadlifts can cause back problems.

    Hell even bicep curls can cause problems with in your elbow, doesn't mean it will.

    Everything we do in the gym has inherent risks that's why we spend so much time working on our form and managing our bodies to help mitigate and possibly prevent possible problems.
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    Jan 04, 2011 1:55 AM GMT
    lilTanker said
    catfish5 saidNot true. This position will cause impingement syndrome in your shoulders. Shoulder shrugs with dumbells at your side are better.

    True, it CAN cause impingement problems with your shoulder not will but so can lifting your arms above your head, shoulder injury that hasn't been properly managed or a multitude of things, just as squats and deadlifts can cause back problems.

    Hell even bicep curls can cause problems with in your elbow, doesn't mean it will.

    Everything we do in the gym has inherent risks that's why we spend so much time working on our form and managing our bodies to help mitigate and possibly prevent possible problems.


    Upright rows mimic the classic impingement position of Hawkins-Kennedy. There are much better exercises out there that strengthen the same muscles without the risk of impingement.
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    Jan 04, 2011 2:01 AM GMT
    catfish5 saidI did them for years. Had to eliminate them from my workout when I developed shoulder tendonitis (along with military press).

    While it's a shame you developed shoulder problems not everyone will.

    I did some pretty good damage to my shoulder and my physio therapists recommends I do things like full range shrugs, military presses, shrugs and all kinds of shoulder work, she lets me do everything because I'm safe, careful and I don't push it to hard, even a year later I'm still recovering finally ony now able to do dips (albeit assisted) and it's all working for me.
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    Jan 04, 2011 2:01 AM GMT
    Wow, nothing like clear non-conflicting advice . . . . it may be a body thing, they work for some, they don't work for other folks.

    If you are doing them correctly, and you don't feel any twinges or tweeks, you should be OK.

    Most injuries happen when folks go to fast, use poor form, pile on the weight or a combination of all three of these. Take it easy, if it feels bad, stop doing them and find another exercise that doesn't hurt.
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    Jan 04, 2011 2:04 AM GMT
    catfish5 saidUpright rows mimic the classic impingement position of Hawkins-Kennedy. There are much better exercises out there that strengthen the same muscles without the risk of impingement.

    the operative word here is "may" it may cause impingement issues not will not going to not absolutely assured.
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    Jan 04, 2011 2:05 AM GMT
    lilTanker said
    catfish5 saidI did them for years. Had to eliminate them from my workout when I developed shoulder tendonitis (along with military press).

    While it's a shame you developed shoulder problems not everyone will.

    I did some pretty good damage to my shoulder and my physio therapists recommends I do things like full range shrugs, military presses, shrugs and all kinds of shoulder work, she lets me do everything because I'm safe, careful and I don't push it to hard, even a year later I'm still recovering finally ony now able to do dips (albeit assisted) and it's all working for me.


    Its not a matter of IF you will get shoulder problems, its a matter of WHEN. Stick to shoulder presses and various lateral raises for working the shoulders and shrugs for working the traps.

    Other exercises you should watch out for are behind-the-neck barbell shoulder presses and behind-the-neck pulldowns. These two movements put tension on the shoulder joint in it's most vulnerable position. I would strongly recommend against doing these too.
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    Jan 04, 2011 2:11 AM GMT
    catfish5 saidOther exercises you should watch out for are behind-the-neck barbell shoulder presses and behind-the-neck pulldowns. These two movements put tension on the shoulder joint in it's most vulnerable position. I would strongly recommend against doing these too.

    I don't recommend doing those either because for general population there is no need and your just as well suited by doing them infront.

    However in that position your shoulder is already in a compromised position of stability the likelyhood of someone doing great damage is HUGE and seriously, infront is more then adequate.

  • Jerebear

    Posts: 329

    Jan 04, 2011 2:15 AM GMT
    catfish5 said
    Its not a matter of IF you will get shoulder problems, its a matter of WHEN. Stick to shoulder presses and various lateral raises for working the shoulders and shrugs for working the traps.

    Other exercises you should watch out for are behind-the-neck barbell shoulder presses and behind-the-neck pulldowns. These two movements put tension on the shoulder joint in it's most vulnerable position. I would strongly recommend against doing these too.


    All my various pulldowns are in front right now anyway, and I do shoulder press with dumbbells, but for others' sake thank you for mentioning that.
  • Jerebear

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    Jan 04, 2011 2:22 AM GMT
    unl1988 saidWow, nothing like clear non-conflicting advice . . . . it may be a body thing, they work for some, they don't work for other folks.

    If you are doing them correctly, and you don't feel any twinges or tweeks, you should be OK.

    Most injuries happen when folks go to fast, use poor form, pile on the weight or a combination of all three of these. Take it easy, if it feels bad, stop doing them and find another exercise that doesn't hurt.


    Haha! I wasn't expecting non-conflicting advice. I've seen this topic on quite a few forums and nobody is ever in total agreement. However, I learn alot from the debate anyway.

    The downside of being my age is that I grow muscles slower, the upside is that my ego isnt fragile which allows me to move a reasonable amount of weight at a reasonable pace with reasonably good form. I wont be impressing anyone and thats fine. But thats great advice nonetheless. Thanks!