I know you’ve seen him. You may even want to be him (although, I don’t know why). Walking through the gym with his ripped Everlast cut-off on. The Shruggernaut is who I am talking about. Upper traps so big they block sound waves from getting in his ears. I think I may have even seen some granola eating Birkenstock wearing spelunkers repelling down his massive traps. You know what’s weird though, I have no problem with this guy besides the fact that he puts 4 45 pound plates on each side of a Universal bar and does “front” shrugs. Get some dumbbells, or a trap bar, get your shoulders back and chin packed, and let the shrugs fly.
This dude’s muscles aren’t the problem. It’s the actual shrug as an exercise that I have the problem with. And to go further, I have no problem with shrugs in a non-rehab setting (unless they are done like this, or like this). In Olympic lifting, they actually provide great benefits for the high pull portion of a clean, etc. But why on earth would a physical therapist have a patient who does not do Olympic lifts do a shrug?
Most likely conditions in which patients are asked to perform shrugs:
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Mid Back pain
Their shoulders are half way up to their ears usually! If you test these people and there is a significant upper trap/shrug weakness, and you think doing more shrugs will fix it, you need to re-assess. Chances are it’s a bigger problem in the Spinal Accessory Nerve which innervatesthe upper trap. Think about it, in today’s society where over 50% of the population spends like 6 hours a day sitting at a computer shrugging,do you think when this person comes in with neck/shoulder/mid back pain they need to shrug more?