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In the climbing scene it is common to train finger strength by hanging from small holds. It seems to be a consensus that hanging with relaxed shoulders is considered to be dangerous and unhealthy for your shoulder both in hangboard training and in climbing rest positions.

On the other hand there is this "trend"(?) started by the surgeon John Kirsch who argues that hanging completely relaxed for some time every day will fix most shoulder problems by moving your acromion into a better position over time.

There is not really a "controversy" about those two conflicting ideas because both camps do not seem to be aware of each other at all. But it would be interesting to see some discussion on this.

Edit: To rephrase this as a question: What are the actual harms and benefits of hanging with passive shoulders both for people not yet injured and people already having shoulder injuries?

PS: My own anecdotal evidence as a rock climber with shoulder pain is that hangboard training with packed shoulders usually does not aggravate my pain while hanging relaxed from a bar seems to aggravate it at least a bit (which is the reason why i did not experiment with that a lot).

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    Unfortunately, we are not really a discussion site in the traditional sense, we are a Q&A based site. Your post seems to be more of a discussion than anything. We welcome that in chat, but unless you have an actual question, your posting will be closed. – JohnP Jan 4 at 22:41
  • @JohnP thanks for the criticism. I have added a line to rephrase this as an actual question. – Wave and Matter Jan 5 at 11:47
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The main difference is one of intent.

Hanging with relaxed shoulders, the intent should be that of stretching, allowing your body to relax into the stretched position.

Hanging with active shoulders, the intent should be strengthening the muscles of the shoulder, which will help with injury prevention.

When you're doing fingerboard work, you're training your tendon and muscle strength to hold your bodyweight throughout climbing movements, and when you're moving on a climb, you want to keep everything tight as it allows greater transmission of force (think, the difference between pulling a deadlift with relaxed shoulders as opposed to tight shoulders, or doing a press up with a saggy waist instead of a tight core).

Personally, I do both, fingerboard training with packed shoulders (same with pull ups, packed shoulders), then at the end of a session, hang in a relaxed position from a pull up bar to stretch out my shoulders and chest.

Incidentally, if you're climbing with shoulder pain, try doing Turkish get ups as part of your regular training. I've found them very beneficial for shoulder health and strength.

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"On the other hand there is this "trend"(?) started by the surgeon John Kirsch who argues that hanging completely relaxed for some time every day will fix most shoulder problems by moving your acromion into a better position over time."

Never heard of this doctor but when I had shoulder pain from work it was instinctive...automatic for me to hang on the anything and pull my shoulders to release the pain...

No one told me to do that, I just felt pain and my brain said to me "pull your shoulder please! Do it now! I'm in pain!"

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