Nerve FeedBack And Rotating Shrugs

shrugs and nerves


First off, great site, and thanks for providing guidance for many of us who need it. I know you're no doctor, nor do you claim to be one, but is it possible to discuss nerve ending sensation versus muscle burn and soreness?

I was at the gym doing some shrugs (back straight, knees slightly bent, shoulders pinned back, NO ROTATION) and felt great as ever. I observed some other guys doing shrugs which introduced a backward rotation. They claimed they felt the exercise much more.

I spoke to my trainer who is also a physical therapist and is studying to be a doctor, and he expressed to me that what those guys were feeling was feedback from nerves, not muscle. He also said to me that side lateral lifts for the shoulders did the same. I do my shoulder lifts at an approximate 45 degree angle of complete extension. That is, not fully forward or fully lateral (I hope that makes sense). Do you have any comments or can you shed some light on the subject?

- Submitted by Erick


Hi Erick,

Thanks for the great question.

I think the whole reason for the shrug rotation motion is to try and increase the overall range of motion for that particular exercise. Now, I do believe in an overall increase range of motion for certain exercises, but not all. Personally, I believe that by implementing a more expansive range of motion for certain exercises, will improve both, flexibility and strength.

However, I also believe that some exercise should not implement an increase the overall range of motion.

For example, as you said, the shrug and side lateral raise. There is a certain point in each of those exercise that the muscle stops it's strongest point of flexion. After that point, the muscle loses it maximum flexion and relies more on tendon and ligament strength. Now, you said that your physiotherapist mentioned something about feedback from nerves. I'm not sure what he/she meant about this since all muscle movement is nothing more than a reaction from a nerve response (I believe). Maybe your physiotherapist means an “overreaction” to muscle stimuli? I'm not 100% sure.

The one thing I'm pretty sure about is that certain movements may put your body in an awkward position, which may open it up to injuries. I know that the rotating shrug may put your body in this unnatural position depending on the weight being used and the form and technique implemented.

Side laterals should be performed with your arms slightly bent (35 to 45 degree angle) going to just under your parallel shoulder level. Keeping your arms straight and going past shoulder level puts your rotator cuffs in very vulnerable positions that can lead to injury. I've also discussed this with my physiotherapist and he mentioned that anything past the shoulder level is not doing anything but opening yourself up to injury. Here's a quick experiment. Stand up and bend your arms to about 35 degrees. Now, try doing a side lateral going to just under shoulder level.

Now, do the same thing but keep your arms very straight and lift both arms as you would with a side lateral raise but go past shoulder level. The further up you go, the more unnatural it feels. Can you feel the difference? It's at this point that you rely more on joint, ligament, and rotator cuff movement. You don't want this because it can lead to injury.

As for the rotating shrug, you don't need it. All you need is to shrug up and down, and you'll be fine.

While we are on the subject of shrugs. Want a more challenging workout for your traps? Try this the next time your at the gym. Do a quick warm up with dumbbell shrugs and take a quick breather. What your going to do is take a “trip down the rack”. Here's what your going to do:

• Start at your top weight and do 10 reps: without resting go to

• A pair of dumbbells that's 10 pounds lighter and do another 10 reps. Without resting go to

• A pair of dumbbells that's 10 pounds lighter and do another 10 reps. Without resting go to

• A pair of dumbbells that's 10 pounds lighter and do another 10 reps. Without resting go to

• A pair of dumbbells that's 5 pounds lighter and do 12 reps.

Your traps should be ready to explode after this exercise. Try this “down the rack” technique for about 3 weeks and I'm pretty sure your going to see some strong development in your traps.

I hope this helps,


As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.

Home > Tools and Resources HQ > Questions and Answers