The Perfect Push Up

For such a seemingly simple movement the push up has many variabilities and subtleties that need to be considered. Where we position our hands, elbows, feet and trunk all need to be considered to avoid the hot, burning pain in the front of our shoulders that is so often associated with the push up. In this article we examine the proper positioning of our body in order perform the perfect push up.

1. Hands

The first thing to consider when setting up for the push up is where to position the hands. Positioning our hands too wide or too high (or low) causes our shoulder to internally rotate and opens the door for injury. As a rule, our hands need to be positioned directly under our shoulders. When in the lowered position your forearm should be close to vertical.

Fingers need be aligned parallel to body. It’s common to see fingers turn out due to missing range of motion at the shoulder and wrist. This limits the amount of power we create as well as predisposes us to anterior shoulder and elbow pain

2. Elbows

The most common compensation for missing shoulder range of motion is the elbows flaring out. It’s most common cause is missing shoulder range of motion and will always leads to wrist, elbow or anterior shoulder pain if not corrected. In order to avoid the hot, burning pain in the front of your shoulders it’s imperitive to keep your elbows close to the body.

3. Trunk and Lower Body

An inability to maintain the plank position causes our butt’s to sag or be shot into the air. Both lead to injury and need to be avoided. Keeping feet together helps activate the glutes which is turn creates stability in our trunk.

Keep in mind that fatigue becomes a huge factor when performing high volume push ups. What starts as a perfect push up easily becomes a sloppy and injury prone push up when programmed between other high intensity exercises. Effort needs to be made to improve shoulder and core strength to perform the perfect push up throughout the entirety of a work out.