Dr. AJ Gagliardi
Grip Strength and Technique
Grip is one of the most influential movements in shoulder stability. However, it is the most overlooked. Grabbing an object is something that all of us take for granted. It does not matter if you are picking up a book or lifting heavy weight. Some grab with 4 fingers, some grab with a loose grip, and only a few of us take this part of the lift seriously. I truly believe that many shoulder injuries would be prevented if we had a more engaged grip. So what is correct? You should be grabbing the bar/weight/kettlebell/etc. like someone is trying to steal your grandmother’s purse. Some Olympic lifts call for a specific grip change, I.E. – the “hook” grip, but for simplicity sake we will leave those out of this discussion.
You should grab the bar with all 5 fingers. I see the 4 finger hold way too much. When you lose your thumb grip you begin to lose control of your entire upper limb. Because your shoulder is doing most of the work and goes through the greatest range of motion it is usually the one that becomes injured. We also see many overuse elbow tendonitis’ with a poor grip technique.
A strong grip makes you stronger, period! You will be able to do more pull-ups and pull more weight from the ground, while being more stable through your shoulder. This will decrease the likelihood of you incurring a shoulder injury. The grip-shoulder connection has been shown in multiple studies. These studies show a positive correlation between hand grip and the activity of the rotator cuff muscles. Simply put, the harder you grip the more weight your body thinks it needs to prepare for. Our rotator cuff muscles respond to that strong full grip and turn on. This will increase the stability of your shoulder, consequently increasing the amount weight you can lift. The more loosely we grip the less these muscle work. Make sure that when you work out your grip works out with you.