Are behind the neck pull-downs bad for you? Although this exercise can do a lot in terms of thoroughly working the lats, traps, rhomboids and posterior deltoids, it can also cause a lot of damage as well. Behind the neck pulls force the shoulders into external rotation and it puts them at a very delicate position. This makes them prone to internal injuries. The rotator cuff, which is encased in the shoulder joint and provides strength and stability to the ball and socket, is not able to offer the needed support during this exercise. This happens, especially, to individuals who don’t have very good shoulder flexible. They are forced to bend their neck causing strain on the neck muscles. This will probably leave them with both a shoulder and neck injury!
Haven’t bodybuilders been performing this exercise for decades? Yes. Although this may be true, if you already have problems with your rotator cuff or lack the flexibility needed to create the correct line, injury is inevitable. Behind the neck pulldowns increase your risk for shoulder impingement syndrome (SIS). The typical symptoms of SIS include pain with overhead movements and weakness of shoulder muscles. This can lead to the muscles actually tearing in two making it difficult for the person to even elevate his/her arms.
Even if you can perform this exercise without pain, why set yourself up for the possibility? Pulldowns to the collarbone are just as effective.
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