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  • Writer's pictureJenny Henderson

What's with all the hanging around?

Walk into the gym and you'll often find me hanging, bump into me at the playground with my children, hanging. Hanging (technically known as 'the dead hang') is an exercise that requires you to simply hang from an overhead bar like a dead weight. No repetitions, no pushes or pulls, just a plain, old, simple hang.... So what is it with hanging and could it benefit you?

It’s benefits are huge and with a spine like mine they are my 'must do', my happy place and something I do almost anytime I have an overhead bar to hang from (yes I am that mum in the playground!) Hanging causes my spine to decompress; meaning that I am replacing space that has been lost between the bones, joints and discs in my back. Not only does this relieve back pain and tension, but it helps in injury prevention.

The additional benefits are many, from mobility, to strength, muscle gain and elongation:

⭐️ Spinal Decompression

The biggest draw for me is their proficiency at decompressing the spine. Most of the activities and movements involved in our modern-day lifestyles compress our spine. Extended periods of sitting, for one! But also, things like carrying heavy objects, squatting, and even sleeping can compress the spine. Hanging in the dead hang position for even a few seconds at a time is effective in decompressing the spine and can vastly improve your posture.

⭐️ Posture Correction

Dead hangs are awesome for correcting your posture! They can strengthen, decompress, loosen, and mobilize your entire upper body. All four of these factors are major contributors to better posture.

⭐️ Shoulder Joint Range of Motion

Hanging in this passive position allows your upper body to fully relax with your arms overhead. Every second spent in this position is working on your shoulder joint range of motion, mobility and improving your overall shoulder health.

⭐️ Latissimus Dorsi Lengthening

Something you’ll feel instantly when doing the dead hang is how much stretch is created through your lats. The dead hang provides an excellent static stretch for your lats. The lats are crucial in pulling and pushing movements so keeping them loose and healthy is key to making progress in any of your pressing movements and of course this will also carry over into your chins, deadlifts and rows. #bangforbuck

⭐️ Grip Strength

Whilst performing a dead hang, you are holding onto a bar and hanging your body weight off it, making dead hangs by far the most effective way to increase your grip strength.

Having good grip strength benefits your performance across all exercises where good grip is required, for example, pull ups, rows and deadlifts.

⭐️ Forearm Gains

Dead hangs are an excellent way to build both size and strength through your forearms with your forearms being under tension constantly throughout the exercise.

⭐️ Rotator Cuff Strengthening & Shoulder Injury Repair

There have been numerous cases of people recovering from shoulder injuries, aches and pains, specifically through the rotator cuff, by simply performing the dead hang.

The dead hang providing spinal decompression that lubricates, hydrates, and nourishes the discs.

So, how exactly do you dead hang? Grab a pull up bar/rings, totally disengage every muscle in your body and just hang. Think about letting the weight of your hips and body relax, letting them drift towards the floor. You may feel your lower back start to unlock, or elongate; essentially this is traction, specifically for the lower back and more specifically for the vertebral discs within the spine.

If you lift heavy on a regular basis, this exercise can keep your back in check, hang between lifts, or at the end of your session and you can potentially save yourself some unwanted lower back pain and stiffness.

There are so many benefits to this simple exercise, the big one for me though, is simply how they make my back feel, I know that the spinal decompression and lengthening of the upper back muscles that the dead hang provides, contributes majorly to my back health and injury prevention. So I'll keep hanging around and encourage you to try it too.

Health and Happiness


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