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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Lat Pull Down

Brent Brookbush

Brent Brookbush


Lat Pull Down - Behind the Neck

By Brent Brookbush MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS

The issues that place the “Lat Pull Down – Behind the Neck” on the “questionable exercise list” are almost identical to the issues described in the “Shoulder Press - Behind the Neck”. It begins with the same flexibility enigma, results in the same compensation pattern, and a similar risk for injury and pain.

Quick Recap:

This exercise requires flexibility beyond optimal from the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint.

  • External rotation of the shoulder(95°)
  • horizontal abduction of the shoulder(100°)

Since most of us are not hyper-mobile at the shoulder, it is more common to adopt a compensatory movement pattern.

  • Scapula assumes a position of downward rotation, anterior tipping, and elevation

The downward rotation and anterior tipping of the scapula press the acromion process into the humeral head and compresses the soft tissues between them.

The position of the scapula also changes the position of the glenoid fossa and creates a potentially unstable environment for the glenohumeral joint.

Additional Concerns:

The immediate risk posed by the Lat Pull Down is likely less, but the long term risk may be greater. Although the load distracts rather than compresses the shoulder (generally speaking) - reducing the risk of immediate tissue damage, the muscles “worked” during the exercise are the same muscles that are short/overactive in upper-body dysfunction (downward rotation and anterior tipping of the shoulder girdle, forward head, and thoracic kyphosis).

Specifically, the pec minor will be the dominate mover of the scapula during this movement due to the anterior tipped position. Experience and practice have shown this exercise to be incredibly effective at reinforcing synergistic dominance of the pec minor, and reducing lower-trap activity. You may note an increase in “lateral pec” tenderness: synonymous with activation of pec minor trigger points.

My last point is simply, Why? Why would you do a lat pull down behind the head? The latissimus dorsi is a muscle that originates in the thoracolumbar aponeurosis and inserts into the anterior aspect of the humerus (bicipital groove). The ideal line of pull is synonymous with a lat pull down to the chest.

© 2011 Brent Brookbush

Questions, comments, and criticisms are welcomed and encouraged –