Secret to Safer Pushups & Bench Press | Why Avatar’s Neytiri must be a Poor Archer in Reality

Many of us suffer from shoulder pain when we do pushups and bench press, especially while training hard. Today, we discuss a technique which helps us stay in a more stable position while doing any horizontal pressing exercise and thus prevent injuries. To understand it, first observe these images:



Okay so first movement image is of shoulder flexion and extension(moving forward & backward) and 2nd one is external and internal rotation (moving outwards & inwards). So whenever we do any pushing movement, our arm goes into shoulder flexion. Anatomically, if this is coupled with internal rotation (moving inwards), this leaves very little space for the humerus bone (upper arm) to move within the joint capsule and thus can cause impingement and pain. However, rotating your shoulders externally creates more space and makes a more stable and safer position for pressing movements. This also promotes good posture if you use it while sitting on your computer.

Scientific mumbo-jumbo aside, How can you apply this to your pressing exercises? Tucking your elbows towards your body instead of flaring them out and tightening your upper back musculature is the way to go. It is so much safer for the shoulder joint that almost all powerlifters (pressing 200-300 Kgs) use this technique. You will also see gymnasts using this for doing planche progressions and the iron cross (arguably the hardest trick in gymnastics). Now that you have learnt the safe way, it’s time to critique Neytiri’s archery technique in Avatar.

As depicted in the pic above, she uses a reverse grip to hold the arrow which forces the shoulder in an internally rotated state which also is coupled with weaker back muscle engagement. Weaker your pull is, the lesser power you generate. Also her technique can certainly cause chronic pain because of the same issues we discussed above. May be the magical Hometree can heal her from time to time, who knows? We can only hope James Cameroon fixes it in Avatar 2. By the way, not all Hollywood actors shoot arrows badly. Stephen Amell plays the lead role in the TV series Arrow and he has external rotation technique perfected to the core.

Alright, so the next time any trainer asks you to flare out your elbows while doing pushups and presses, ask them to learn about some anatomy first. They really need it. If you reallly want to train safely and don’t want to injure yourself, give PSI Fitness a call at +91 76666 20988 and we’ll see how we can help you become stronger.


In Lucem Scientiam



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