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Old 09-23-2008, 10:10 AM   #1
Kirez Reynolds
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Pavel versus active shoulders

I searched these forums with keywords like "Enter the Kettlebell", "shoulder", etc, but nobody seems to have questioned the diametrically contrary way CrossFit trainers and Pavel Tsatsouline advocate activating the shoulder in presses.

I don't have any online links, but in Enter The Kettlebell especially, one of Pavel's critical safety points is to "keep your shoulders in your sockets" and "retract the shoulders" like a turtle's head into its shell. Demonstrated with pictures, he does the exact opposite of what CrossFit uniformly advocates: when pressing kettlebells overhead, he pulls the shoulder aggressively down. CrossFit advises aggressively thrusting the shoulders up --- putting the deltoid against the ear, what we call 'active shoulders'.

Does anybody have insight as to how Pavel screwed this up so badly, and how his breadth / volume of experience hasn't shown a CLEAR consequence in increased shoulder injuries?

* * *

Keep in mind the structure of the shoulder 'socket'. By actively holding your shoulders down (activating the lats while relaxing the traps, I believe), you don't actually keep the humerus inside the glenoid. On the contrary, you'd be actively holding it out.

http://chrisevans3d.com/images/fluoroscopy_thum.jpg -- this is a screenshot from this fantastic flouroscopic MRI of the shoulder in motion, here's the SAFE video (.avi) : http://chrisevans3d.com/video/front01.avi

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...px-Gray327.png

I think it's helpful to think of active shoulders in the opposite direction as well --- in the support position of the dip. Gymnasts forcefully contract the lats to pull the humerus down --- it looks like they're pushing their torsos and clavicles/spines up. This also is the opposite of pushing the shoulder into its 'socket', but even more accurately since the 'socket' faces downward not laterally or upward, and it's crucial to shoulder function and health in, most appropriately, parallel bar work.

My take is that CrossFit has this exactly right, and in practice I think you'll see most kettlebellers doing it correctly (here's an example... a 200 lb single arm jerk, no less!) SAFE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpvEaGkC9MA

Pavel generally gets mechanics exactly right, so I'm wondering what gives with respect to this shoulder advocacy. I think it's an intriguing question that needs to be answered. How are kettlebell movements, practiced as Pavel teaches, so renowned for shoulder rehabilitation, if he's doing this so wrong?
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Old 09-23-2008, 01:34 PM   #2
Brandon Oto
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Re: Pavel versus active shoulders

He finds it to be a simpler cue for beginners. Someone posted on this a while back.
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Old 09-23-2008, 09:51 PM   #3
Kirez Reynolds
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Re: Pavel versus active shoulders

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Originally Posted by Brandon Oto View Post
He finds it to be a simpler cue for beginners. Someone posted on this a while back.
Sorry Brandon, but I don't think "a simpler cue" quite addresses the issue here. CrossFit has found it necessary to make a pedagogical issue of actively elevating the shoulder for overhead lifts. Pavel has made an emphatic point of intently retracting the shoulder and holding the retraction. Diametrically opposite positions, and essential to a great portion of exercises for both the dragondoor and CrossFit communities.

It may well be the case that a 3rd alternative or tangential explanation or interpretation is called for that I'm simply missing. And maybe that's what you're trying to suggest, but I'm not getting it (terseness is stylish, but signal is functional.)

So... uh, simpler cue for what?
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Old 09-24-2008, 02:12 AM   #4
Brandon Oto
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Re: Pavel versus active shoulders

See Greg's post http://board.crossfit.com/showthread...acked+shoulder (safe link)

Last edited by David Wood : 09-24-2008 at 07:33 PM.
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Old 09-24-2008, 01:16 PM   #5
Geoff Pitluck
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Re: Pavel versus active shoulders

Thanks, Brandon, great thread! Greg's post does indeed demystify the apparent contradiction.
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Old 09-24-2008, 01:24 PM   #6
Kirez Reynolds
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Re: Pavel versus active shoulders

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Originally Posted by Brandon Oto View Post
Ah, thanks. That helps.
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