Get Strong, Hit Hard & Toughen Up!

A Cure For Focus Pad Shoulder Pain

I recently came across a combative training entry on a forum at by someone who was experiencing nagging shoulder pain from holding the focus pads for a hard-hitting training partner.

He is a boxing coach and indicates that regardless of how hard he tries to resist the impact (which is one of the causes of the problem), the pain in his shoulders is accumulating to the point where it is interfering with his strength training.

Here is the response I provided to him, and provide to you if you are experiencing a similar problem:

The Solution:

I’ve been training and coaching combative training methods, and in particular focus pad work for over 35 years.  There is no reason to endure shoulder pain from holding the focus pads.  I recommend two solutions.

Solution #1 – Patting

First is the concept of something I call “patting.”  Patting with the focus pads involves performing a short and subtle slap with the focus pad into the incoming strike.

If you try to hold your arm rigid on impact or are too relaxed and allow your arm to be knocked away during a focus pad hit you are definitely setting yourself up for shoulder soreness and injuries.  In fact, holding your body rigid on impact can rattle your ENTIRE body right up to your head!

The patting action will dissipate the impact energy of the strike rather than allowing it to transfer into your body.  It takes a bit of practice but eventually, you will be able to “slap” the pad into the strike without throwing off the puncher’s body mechanics.

Solution #2 – Turkish Get Up

The second solution I recommend is to consider Russian Kettlebell Training to condition your shoulders, improve body mechanics and re-activate stabilizer muscles which are responsible for maintaining solid shoulder positioning and solidifying your shoulder joint at the point of impact.

Kettlebell training (in particular the Hardstyle method as taught by Pavel Tsatsouline) places great emphasis on “packing” the shoulder joint into it’s optimal position for strength and stability).

Packing the shoulder involves pulling the shoulders back and down with the lat muscles.  Any time your shoulder raise up toward your ears or slip forward, it is much more susceptible to injury.

The BEST hands-down-without-a-doubt kettlebell exercise that that will correct flawed shoulder mechanics is the “Turkish Get Up.”  The TGU is an exercise that involves holding the KB in an extended, arm straight position while lying on your back and then transitioning to a position where you are standing with the KB extended over your head (like a military press).

What the movement does is program a solid, packed shoulder position from through a wide range of motion and activates the important stabilizer muscles that hold the your upper arm and shoulder in a strong, stable position.

I am confident that this will correct and protect your shoulder issues.

I hope that makes sense.

If this resolves YOUR training issues please feel free to comment on this blog, email me directly or you can reach me on Twitter at

P.S.  Here is a video clip of the Turkish Get Up by Gray Cook:


About Randy LaHaie

I’m the founder of “Protective Strategies,” a training and consulting company providing self-defense and combative fitness solutions to law enforcement, high-risk professionals and private citizens since 1994. I am a retired police officer, court-declared expert in use-of-force and critical incident performance, and a life-long student of self-defense and combative fitness. “My Thing” is to help people incorporate functional and minimalist workout strategies to improve their health, fitness and personal safety.

Join The Toughen Up Tribe! It’s fast, easy and free.

Sign up for the newsletter, and get a free copy of The Toughen Up Guide To Heavy Bag Training. Join fellow readers with an interest in self-defense and combative training methods today. Enter your email below:

Bad Behavior has blocked 423 access attempts in the last 7 days.