Dead Hang: A Simple Exercise With Powerful Results

If you’re looking for a simple exercise that strengthens your shoulders, we’ve got one that not only does that, but also can decompress your aching back. And it’s just about the most straightforward exercise that exists. 

The dead hang is making a comeback in fitness circles everywhere. This classic and fundamental move involves just hanging with both hands from a bar and letting your body be a dead weight. 

It does not involve engaging any muscle groups or even making any movements. While most exercises have at least some type of complicated move to obtain the most benefits, the dead hang does not. It is probably the simplest exercise that exists. But that doesn’t mean it’s the easiest.

Benefits of the dead hang include strong shoulders, a better grip, and most surprisingly, relief from that aching back. Continue reading to learn more about the dead hang and ways that it, along with another simple treatment, can improve back pain.

 

How Do You Do a Dead Hang?

While the dead hang is a pretty self-explanatory exercise, it never hurts to review proper technique.

To Do a Dead Hang Exercise

  1. Stand on a stool under a pull-up bar so that your hands can almost reach the bar.
  2. Go up onto your tiptoes and place your hands on the bar, keeping them slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with palms facing away from your body.
  3. Lift your feet off of the stool and let your body hang with your legs directly beneath you, hanging straight down. You may need to engage your core to prevent swinging.
  4. Hold for ten seconds, then return to your starting position on the stool and release your hands.

 

Tips and Tricks to Get the Most Benefit from a Dead Hang

Here are a few tips and tricks to make the most of your exercise:

  • When reaching the bar, use a box or step stool and reach up to grip the bar. 
  • Do not jump up to kick off your dead hang, as this will cause you to swing, which can be difficult to control and put you at risk for injury. 
  • Your palms should be facing away from you, and you should use your thumbs to grip around the bar. 
  • Your arms should be straight. 
  • You may need to slightly engage your core to prevent you from swinging, but for the most part, you should keep your whole body – except for your hands – loose. In particular, make sure that your shoulders and back are relaxed as you hang. Don’t try to hunch your shoulders to bring stability as that will prevent you from getting the full benefits of the dead hang. 
  • Try to relax and sink into the hanging position. Your arms will extend, moving your shoulders closer to your ears. This is the passive version of the dead hang. For an active dead hang, pull your shoulder blades down and use your shoulder muscles to hold the position.

If you’re new to the dead hang, do not expect to hang for a minute straight. It takes time to develop the ability to reach that level. Instead, begin by holding the hang for three reps of five to ten seconds each, resting for thirty seconds to a minute between each rep. 

 

What Are the Benefits of Doing Dead Hangs?

Most people in today’s society spend their days sitting down, hunched over a computer. The dead hang offers a movement that we rarely do, but that our bodies are still not only capable of doing, but craving to do. 

The dead hang effectively reverses the damage done by sitting with poor posture, strengthening our backs, shoulders, arms, and grip. 

 

Strengthens Grip

The dead hang exercise works your forearms, and therefore, strengthens your grip. A firm grip is needed not only for an impressive handshake, but also to help you lift heavier amounts of weight if you are involved in weight training. Not only that, but a weaker grip is linked to potential earlier mortality, according to one study

 

Strengthens Shoulders

When the dead hang exercise is regularly practiced, the scapular muscles will be strengthened. This includes the muscles that surround your shoulder blade and attach to the shoulder and upper arm.

Having strong shoulders can not only help you perform everyday activities, especially reaching overhead or behind you, but it can also prevent you from developing some shoulder-related injuries, such as frozen shoulder. 

 

Improves Flexibility

The dead hang exercise also strengthens the latissimus dorsi muscles, which are located below the shoulder blade, running on either side of the spine down to the pelvis. The lats may tighten up if not used, making it difficult to reach overhead. However, hanging like in the dead hang will stretch these muscles, loosening and strengthening them. You may experience improved mobility, better flexibility, and the ability to achieve a full range of motion. 

 

Decompresses the Spine

Hanging from the bar in a dead hang will allow gravity to affect your body structure, creating traction — or little openings — between the joints in the vertebrae in your spine. It literally stretches your spine in a way that is otherwise difficult to do.

This decompression of the spine reduces stiffness or tightness and decreases the likelihood of back pain. It’s especially helpful for individuals who are stuck behind a desk all day. 

It takes some time in the hanging position to achieve decompression; however, even if the spine is unaffected, the back muscles themselves will enjoy a good stretch.

 

How Else Can I Relieve Back Pain?

The dead hang exercise is a simple exercise that stretches and strengthens the back, which can improve mobility and relieve back pain. But there’s another way to relieve back pain. Chiropractic care focuses on the spine and improving spinal motion and the overall physical function of the whole body.

Chiropractic adjustment is a procedure where a chiropractor applies a controlled, sudden force to a spinal joint, which is known as spinal manipulation. This restores the spine to its correct position, affecting various body parts and leaving the patient feeling like a new person.

A chiropractor not only can perform spinal manipulation, but can also recommend exercises and stretches, like the dead hang, that will best help you deal with your own unique health situation. To learn more about how to perform a dead hang and how to help relieve back pain naturally, schedule a chiropractic appointment online or call us today.

Vitality Medical Center proudly serves Tustin, Santa Ana, Orange, Irvine, and the surrounding areas of Orange County, California.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.

Picture of Dr Laila Nayab-Murshidi

Dr Laila Nayab-Murshidi

Dr. Laila Nayab-Murshidi, a chiropractor at Vitality Medical Center, excels in improving lives in Orange County through regenerative medicine, non-surgical spinal decompression, and dedicated chiropractic care, fostering a healthier community. Dr Laila now also offers aesthetic treatments so people not only feel and function better, but also look better.

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