Keep’um tucked…

Question:Do you have any research that says that elbows out pushups can cause injury or are less beneficial than elbows in?

Is it ever OK to do an elbows out pushup?



Hi Jack:

Thanks for the question!  Yes, there’s a bunch of research out there that supports the importance of keeping the elbows tucked during the pushup, most of which is found in health-science related journals that you have to pay for…but why pay when we can give it to you for free; Steve does a great job diagnosing the pushup, HERE

My quick concise answer to your questions regarding the injury implications of performing pushups incorrectly is, yes, you’re putting yourself in a compromised position by letting the elbows flare.  Not only are you creating all sorts of torque around the GH joint, but your scapular stability is compromised as well.  It may not happen immediately, but over time, you’ll likely develop an injury from the repetitive stress.  Not to mention the countless other imbalances being created by absorbing and producing force incorrectly.  

Additionally, from a performance standpoint, it’s certainly not advantageous to the press with flare.  Case and point, the picture below of some Detroit Lions linemen jamming the tackling sled…no elbow flare there…

  But celebrate with flare…absolutely…

Finally, do I ever think it’s okay to perform an elbow flared pushup…not really.  The only circumstance that I’d turn my head is during a testing scenario.  Well, let me qualify that, a testing scenario that I’m not conducting.  This may be applicable to military personnel.  If they are going to let you flare, and you’re more accustomed to this style, I’d probably roll the dice.  Conversely, if I’m testing athletes or the general pop at SAPT, less is more in my opinion; I’d rather see 5 perfect reps than 30 crappy ones. 

 Just keep’um tucked…