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Every now and then at climbing competitions I'll need to do pull-ups while my head is looking to the left or right. I've hurt my neck a couple times doing this. I get a muscle strain or pinched nerve in the back of my neck which hangs around for several days.

I've always heard that you should look forward or up while doing pull-ups to prevent injury. If I start practicing pull-up sets with my head turned to the side, am I going to build up a tolerance to strains or just create further injuries?

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My susceptibility to neck strains decreased significantly after I started focusing on overhead mobility.

For me that meant overhead presses, overhead squats, one-arm overhead pressing while in a squat, plus—and this is important—all the mobility work necessary to support those exercises. I suspect that other methods of increasing stability overhead would help too, such as Turkish get-ups, snatches, and windmills.

  • Makes sense, since I'm almost 100% working my overhead pull muscles, but rarely do any overhead push. Maybe this will alleviate the imbalance. Thanks, I'll give it a try. – FoppyOmega Apr 16 '15 at 13:08
  • I'm not sure it's a muscular imbalance thing, but rather an issue of full mobility in those positions across the shoulder girdle and neck, and stability within those positions. – Dave Liepmann Apr 16 '15 at 13:27

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