How to do push ups without injuring your shoulders
Why I became interested in “Military-Style”
I grew up playing badminton, first at home with my parents and then more often and competitively in both high school and college. I only ever received coaching and training at an older age, which meant that I wasn’t particularly good at badminton and also that my form wasn’t very good. Over time, my bad form led to me developing shoulder injuries, mainly tendinitis in the rotator cuff of my right shoulder.
I gave up playing a few years ago, but the pain and discomfort still linger in many activities. I’ve tried Active Release Therapy with my local chiropractor (after reading about it in Tim Ferriss’ book, “4 Hour Body”), and the therapy (along with a cortisone shot) has definitely helped calm down the injury. After a year of pretty much doing nothing with my shoulder, the pain has subsided, and I have almost normal range of motion. However, the pain still comes back if I do certain exercises.
In particular, push ups give me problems – and no wonder since normal push ups often injure rotator cuffs in people without prior shoulder injuries!
As an alternative, my chiropractor suggested that I try “military-style” push-ups, which I want to share with you so that more people don’t injure their shoulders while doing pushups. (In fact, my cross-fit instructor also suggested that everyone do these instead of normal push-ups.) These push-ups also have an added benefit – they’re harder than normal push-ups, mostly because they rely on your arm muscles more than your chest! In effect, you get less injury with more of a work out….
How to do Military Style Push Ups: I was going to write a very detailed explanation, but I found the video above (on YouTube), and it explains the movement about as well as I could hope to.
The key is to keep your elbows tucked in close to your side (rather than out at right angles to your body). Your hands are generally directly under your shoulders.
The first time I tried these push ups, I nearly collapsed from doing just 5, because I was so unused to working out that part of my arms, so don’t be afraid to start with your knees on the floor or even doing the push ups against a wall. Just remember to tuck your elbows into your side, and your rotator cuffs will thank you!