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Old 09-24-2011, 02:45 PM   #11
Pär Larsson
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Re: Looking for evidence that kipping pullups do or do not cause shoulder injuries.

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Originally Posted by Robert Callahan View Post
It also depends on the type of kipping.

"Butterfly" kips are WAY more ballistic and when done correctly have your shoulder joint go from unloaded to SLAMMED down into a loaded position. This is just terrible for your shoulders and WILL injure them over time, period.

A traditional kipping pull-up, after sufficient dead-hang strength has been established (5-10 deadhangs minimum) should involved the athlete maintaining tension in the joint and thus be reasonably safe. The problem with these is people let their bodies go all loosy goosy at the bottom and hyperextend their shoulders. But a good, tightly preformed, traditional kip with adequate strength developed first is pretty safe IMO.

Muscles ups should never be kipped.

Agreed that butterfly pullups are at the very least dangerous, unless done by a very strong and skilled gymnastics athlete. Which I'm not.

As long as you don't drop straight from the top or overdo the 'swing' part I don't see how regular kipping pullups are dangerous.

I also don't see why you wouldn't take the kipping pullup to its natural conclusion into a bar or ring M.U.? Taking care to not drop straight from the top all the way to the bottom, and the massive repeating gymnastics kip with straight arms straight back into another M.U. may or may not be healthy, I suppose.

I'm trying to talk Dr. Ahmik Jones into writing a research article on it.
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Old 09-24-2011, 03:11 PM   #12
Pearse Shields
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Re: Looking for evidence that kipping pullups do or do not cause shoulder injuries.

You should keep muscle-ups strict on rings. Most I've seen get their first muscle-up with a kip do it with their arms and elbows everywhere, with no control after the transition. There's a lot of potential for injury there. I believe that if you're not strong enough for a strict muscle-up, you're probably better off not doing them kipped either.
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Old 09-24-2011, 05:18 PM   #13
Preston Sprimont
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Re: Looking for evidence that kipping pullups do or do not cause shoulder injuries.

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Originally Posted by Pär Larsson View Post

As long as you don't drop straight from the top or overdo the 'swing' part I don't see how regular kipping pullups are dangerous.
Sure, if you do a couple of very well executed kipping pull-ups, they probably aren't dangerous at all. However, kipping pull-ups, especially in the context of Crossfit (which is honestly the only context I have seen them in), are very rarely a low-rep exercise, and are very rarely a take-your-time-and-do-it-right kind of exercise. The situations in which I most often see kipping pull-ups used are:

a) In a "for time" workout. Here, the kip is used so that you can do your pull-ups as fast as possible, hopefully still with some attention to form. But let's be honest, when folks are racing against the clock and against their peers, most will probably be more focused on winning or getting a lower time than on having the proper tension and control in their shoulder musculature as they get to the bottom of the swing. Also, you usually don't do just 5 kipping pull-ups in a "for time" workout... usually it's more like 30, or 50, or 150 reps in a short-ish amount of time...

b) In a high-volume setting. This is also usually for time. Here, the kip is used to avoid the early onset of muscle exhaustion that would come with doing a huge number of strict pull-ups. However, this recipe generally leads to tired (eventually) shoulder and back muscles and kipping pull-ups in the same dish. And when you're wiped out from already doing 90 of the 100 kipping pull-ups in a workout, chances are you aren't going to be 100% able to have a controlled and on-tension descent into the bottom of the swing for those last 10 reps.

c) In people who can't yet do strict pull-ups. I've seen and heard of plenty of people who use kipping pull-ups or are instructed to use kipping pull-ups as a sort of progression to strict pull-ups. The danger here doesn't need much explication. If you aren't strong enough to do at least a dozen (somewhat arbitrary number) strict pull-ups, chances are you don't have the strength and control to kip in a safe and proper manner.

Also, for what it's worth, I read somewhere (I don't know how true it actually is) that actual gymnasts rarely, if ever, use the kip in their training. And I can't even imagine someone who specializes in competitive gymnastics using a butterfly kip...

Last edited by Preston Sprimont : 09-24-2011 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 09-24-2011, 05:34 PM   #14
Preston Sprimont
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Re: Looking for evidence that kipping pullups do or do not cause shoulder injuries.

Also, even if you don't see exactly how the kipping pull-up may be dangerous, I think it's safe to say, from anecdotes, that it is in many cases dangerous or harmful. Did you browse through some of that ridiculously long thread that I linked to? The proof is in the pudding... or the internet. :P

I have no problem with kipping pull-ups in a competitive setting. They make some sense there... a competition is where you temporarily put winning as your first priority. Plus, it's really difficult to set up a reasonable and unambiguous standard of what a "strict" pull-up is for a competition.
However, I don't like kipping pull-ups used in training, especially with the frequency and volume you see at many Crossfit facilities and on the mainpage.
Also (uh oh, I'm getting on a roll here ), high-volume kipping pull-ups are not "functional" in my book, because injury and slowly damaging your joints is not functional for me. And I don't need to be able to swing from tree to tree all day. I'm a human, not an ape. I am a bipedal creature and my hips are made for the stresses of locomotion. My shoulders... ehh, not so much.

Last edited by Preston Sprimont : 09-24-2011 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 09-24-2011, 09:18 PM   #15
Theresa Meyer
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Re: Looking for evidence that kipping pullups do or do not cause shoulder injuries.

I tore my rotator cuff when I was learning to kip. I was able to do about 7 dead-hang pull-ups, so I thought it was time to kip. That was in 2008, and I have not and will not kip again.
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Old 09-24-2011, 09:52 PM   #16
Aushion Chatman
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Re: Looking for evidence that kipping pullups do or do not cause shoulder injuries.

The problem is rarely with the exercise, just the lack of understanding of how to prepare for and implement it. By itself, Crossfit did NOT invent the kipping pull up, gymnasts have done these for some time, often learning them as children. The issue is being able to determine how soon is too soon to start working them at speed in certain volumes. Some people will say none ever some people can crank out 60+ in a row...
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Old 09-25-2011, 06:41 PM   #17
Christopher Carroll
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Re: Looking for evidence that kipping pullups do or do not cause shoulder injuries.

Rotator cuff injury is associated closely with all exercises or work that involve movements overhead. Swimmers, construction workers, etc are prone to them. I don't think you can blame one particular movement.

Anatomically, there are three different shapes of acromial process: straight, slightly curved and sharply hooked. If you have one of the 2 latter types, particularly the last type, you're at greater risk. The point of a severely curved or hooked acromion will carve/erode it's way through the bursa and into the capsule over time.

I don't think anyone 'kips' and just tears their rotator cuff. It's more likely a process of chronic inflammation, starting with bursitis, progressing through varying degrees of impingement syndrome, then finally resulting in a SLAP lesion/Rotator cuff tear.

There are warning signs and symptoms along the way.
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Old 09-25-2011, 07:16 PM   #18
Pär Larsson
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Re: Looking for evidence that kipping pullups do or do not cause shoulder injuries.

What I'm getting from this thread and some other places:

1. Butterfly pullups are way more dangerous than I want any of my non-extremely competent/extremely strong friends doing. I'm not sure if they should be banned or not, but there needs to be some sort of attention paid to this issue from HQ or medically qualified CrossFit personnel (I'm working on that, I'll bug the Doc that co-owns my gym next time I see him).

2. Kipping pullups aren't as safe as I thought, with the caveat that neither are strict deadhang pullups - if you don't control the descent properly, i.e. push-away laterally at the top for the former or gradually resist the bottoming-out for the latter, then you're gonna put yourself at *unnecessary* risk over time, esp. in Master's division people.

3. High-volume kipping or butterfly sets should be discouraged. The 100-straight pullups sets need to go away. The 20+ chest-to-bar butterfly sets need to go away as you're going higher and giving yourself a greater chance of tiring out and just dropping straight to a hyperextended bottom.

4. Do we really need massive straight-pullup sets at the Games? I think not. Do we really need butterfly pullups in competitive CrossFit? I honestly don't know the answer to that. For better or worse - these are the people we look up to, these are the people we emulate. Monkey see, monkey do.

I looked through http://www.mobilitywod.com/ SFW and found http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgWtW...feature=colike SFW - will watch it tonight.
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Old 09-25-2011, 07:57 PM   #19
Preston Sprimont
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Re: Looking for evidence that kipping pullups do or do not cause shoulder injuries.

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Originally Posted by Pär Larsson View Post
What I'm getting from this thread and some other places:

1. Butterfly pullups are way more dangerous than I want any of my non-extremely competent/extremely strong friends doing. I'm not sure if they should be banned or not, but there needs to be some sort of attention paid to this issue from HQ or medically qualified CrossFit personnel (I'm working on that, I'll bug the Doc that co-owns my gym next time I see him).

2. Kipping pullups aren't as safe as I thought, with the caveat that neither are strict deadhang pullups - if you don't control the descent properly, i.e. push-away laterally at the top for the former or gradually resist the bottoming-out for the latter, then you're gonna put yourself at *unnecessary* risk over time, esp. in Master's division people.

3. High-volume kipping or butterfly sets should be discouraged. The 100-straight pullups sets need to go away. The 20+ chest-to-bar butterfly sets need to go away as you're going higher and giving yourself a greater chance of tiring out and just dropping straight to a hyperextended bottom.

4. Do we really need massive straight-pullup sets at the Games? I think not. Do we really need butterfly pullups in competitive CrossFit? I honestly don't know the answer to that. For better or worse - these are the people we look up to, these are the people we emulate. Monkey see, monkey do.

I looked through http://www.mobilitywod.com/ SFW and found http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgWtW...feature=colike SFW - will watch it tonight.
I'm with you on pretty much everything you wrote there. I'm not a fan of high-volume pull-ups in a timed environment (as if that was ever a question ), and if I'm ever training with someone or helping someone train, I don't advise others to do high-rep timed pull-ups.
However, I do recognize that it's not a simple situation... as someone mentioned on this thread already, there is zero formal data collection (especially for injury) in the Crossfit community. This makes it nearly impossible to credibly diagnose kipping and/or high-rep timed pull-ups as "dangerous," and so we're left with internet strangers like me ranting about things they don't like.
Also, Crossfit has kind of built up high-rep and kipping pull-ups as its "thing," and thus to begin to have people at the top (or at HQ) say, "ehh, folks, might not be the best thing for your shoulders to keep doing that" would not be an easy endeavor. It's an unfortunate situation, and even IF the people up top start believing/realizing/thinking that high-rep timed pull-ups might be more dangerous than they are beneficial, I kind of doubt that much could be done about it without some other changes happening first. If I am right about this whole situation, then it leaves it up to the individuals and the affiliate owners/trainers to adjust the presence of high-rep timed pull-ups as they see fit.
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Old 09-25-2011, 08:00 PM   #20
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: Looking for evidence that kipping pullups do or do not cause shoulder injuries.

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Originally Posted by Pär Larsson View Post
4. Do we really need massive straight-pullup sets at the Games? I think not. Do we really need butterfly pullups in competitive CrossFit? I honestly don't know the answer to that. For better or worse - these are the people we look up to, these are the people we emulate. Monkey see, monkey do.
For affiliate owners, I think the more important (and more general) question is to what extent the average gym member should be doing *any* of the Games workouts, or even any of the mainpage workouts, without very careful attention to scaling. The increasing popularity of Crossfit, combined with the increasingly high stakes of the Games, is necessarily going to widen the gap between the "average" and the "elite" Crossfitter. Which is not a shock: most recreational baseball, soccer, or basketball players don't play like the pros, either.

So it falls to affiliate owners to make sure the people paying them for good advice *don't* get hurt trying to emulate the competitors.

Katherine
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