Of all the movements you routinely do in your workouts at CrossFit Intrepid you may have noticed that we rarely do the Sumo Deadlift High Pull (SDHP).  We occasionally will include it into a workout but it’s definitely not one of the mainstays.  We never really had a good reason except that it’s not a movement we can really allow ourselves to go heavy without tearing up our shoulders, and even at high reps our shoulders tended to feel pretty sore (and not in a “I got a good workout” sore, but more like a “What the Eff did I just do to my shoulders” sore).  Thanks to a recent articleby Dallas Hartwig, a Physical Therapist and coach at Whole9, it has become pretty crystal clear why the SDHP will be a rarity, if not almost extinct, from workouts at Intrepid (including Fight Gone Bad).  Here’s the a quick blurb from Dallas’s article:

“Hearing my PT colleagues describe a SDHP (hilarious, by the way) totally explained the injuries they were treating.  Because truthfully, 94.72% of  SDHPs that I’ve seen in the 4th or 5th round of Fight Gone Bad look nothing like core-to-extremity, hip-driven movements.  They look like inconsistent, poorly executed, discoordinated jumping upright rows.   And let me tell you what an upright row really looks like, to a physical therapist.

The Hawkins-Kennedy impingement test (pictured above) “pushes the supraspinatus tendon against the anterior surface of the coracoacromial ligament and coracoid process” (reference).  Translation:  This is a test for supraspinatus tendinitis and the resulting subacromial pressure and inflammation that typifies impingement.  In even more simple terms, this position jams your most commonly injured rotator cuff muscle between two bones. Just like the top of a perfectly executed, loaded SDHP. (No, that doesn’t sound good to me, either.)

Now, I understand that the SDHP is supposed to be a “core-to-extremity” movement, and that the upward movement of the bar should be driven primarily by the hips, less so by the extension of the knees and ankles, and even less so by the upward pull of the arms. (This is what they said at my CrossFit Level One cert, anyway.) But in reality, if there is any degree of discoordination due to improper attention to form, the complicated neurological pattern of the movement, or plain old fatigue (all wickedly common factors), there will realistically be a significant amount of arm pull at the top of the movement – arm pull in a compromised, internally-rotated position. I make the case that repetitive, high-velocity movements that require an awkward, mechanically-disadvantageous position on every repetition are simply asking for an injury. In other words, I like my supraspinatus, and prefer that it not be violently and repeatedly jammed into my scapula.”

Let’s take FGB as an example.  Best case scenario, our first station is the SDHP, although you’re way more likely to start at a different station, but for sake of this argument you’ve started at SDHP.  You’re fresh and repping out SDHPs as quickly as possible trying to hit the 20 mark or higher for that first minute.  At best you’ll be lucky to do 80% of the reps with good form (using legs and  not arms).  That means there were those 4 reps that you got up but have already begun putting the shoulder into an ill advised position because your legs started to fatigue and you used your shoulders to finish the movement.  Not cool.  And when has the 2nd and 3rd rounds of FGB ever gotten easier?  Short answer is, never.  You’ll be lucky to do half your next round’s reps with proper form and maybe a quarter of your 3rd round SDHPs correctly, putting your shoulder on the fast track to impingement-ville.  I’m sure Stephanie would love the business of helping give your shoulders some TLC after the fact, but let’s just avoid the situation all together and sub movements that suck just as much, if not more. 

On that note, we’ll be subbing the kettlebell snatch for the SDHP for Saturday’s FGB5 workout.  I understand that many of you may have some heartache over this decision, but please keep in mind that on our fitness quest we are always striving to do things more effectively and safely.  Let’s be mature enough to recognize and eliminate something that either don’t make sense or who’s costs that far outweigh it’s benefits.  In our quest as coaches to provide you with the best training possible, we feel like the SDHP is unnecessary because of the high risk of shoulder impingement and the relatively small benefit of the movement compared to others we do which produce the same effect.  We love our rotator cuff muscles, and think you should too.

WOD 09.22.10

Push Press 5×3 @ 110-120% of Press workset

Double Unders

10 Responses to “Why We Don’t Like the SDHP”

September 22, 2010 at 7:33 AM

Great post Sean, very informative. I also read that burpees are bad for you too… oh, and double unders.

September 22, 2010 at 8:36 AM

double unders are a DEFINITE one way ticket to impingement-ville

September 22, 2010 at 8:46 AM

i said that… then totally forgot to look at the WOD today… Ahhh maaaaaannnn! IMPINGEMENT-VILLE here i come!

September 22, 2010 at 10:10 AM

OK, so no SDHP, no burpees, and no double unders. Got it! Anything else Coach Anna? I’m thinking that the snatch can’t be good for you. That movement sucks. Can we add it to the impingement-ville list?

BTW, this Saturday the surf bums are playing the hick cowboys at 12:30 Pacific. Let’s gather a crew to watch!! Ruth and I will be leading the Bruins cheering section and Anna can lead the bad guys. USC people are not invited since they are cheaters and have been banned from all activities for 2 years.

I’m sure Anna will be ready to place a friendly wager on the event. I’ll take the 16 points (current line) and the Bruins! What’s the bet? Pitcher at Sharkeez?


September 22, 2010 at 10:36 AM

Go Bruins!! I’m in on friendly wager and ditto on Trojan ban!

Impingement-ville! Is that next to Whoville?

Btw, this wod was requested by a certain AM person…

September 22, 2010 at 10:41 AM

Double unders and Burpees, huh? Yeah, I’ve heard they bruise your ego pretty bad. Nice try guys. They may take you to Suck-City but not Impingment-ville.

September 22, 2010 at 11:57 AM

UM. BEST. WOD. EVER! I wanna do it again!!!!

Now I’m just scared of the SDHP. Snatches here I come (That sounds bad). =D

September 22, 2010 at 12:36 PM

Be wary of the person who brings their own cue stick to the local bar to “play” pool. Also, be wary of the person who travels everywhere with a super-rad jump rope and has “annie are you ok” on repeat on their ipod.

I am not bitter, I am just in awe. The sound of 50 DUs strung together is pretty awesome.

Ruth – I hear you like the way I “ease” into the bar pull movements. Must be a carry over from feeling the ground and my weight distribution when setting up to hit a golf shot – the waggle.

btw – Alia killed Annie.

September 22, 2010 at 1:44 PM

HAHA! Matt I do the exact same thing when I golf. I’ve been ridiculed for doing it for 20+ years, but I can’t get comfortable over the golf ball without a little waggle. Sue me!

September 22, 2010 at 4:01 PM

Thanks Matt!! I’ve been glowing all day, I’m so happy. Annie should be a part of everyday’s WOD. Except Saturday, That’s just gonna hurt.

Alia, your love for Annie is disturbing. I should take a cue from Sean and make tomorrow’s post “Why I Don’t Like Annie”.
- Marcus