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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 08-22-2007, 08:26 PM   #1
Chris Finegold
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Squat Bar Position - Shoulder Pain

I have just finished reading Starting Strength, and am very excited to be starting his beginners program. The book did a great job explaining a lot of the nuances of technique, and I have had to correct a lot of the things I was doing wrong. One of the changes was to change the bar position from up on the traps to what he calls the low bar position on the back of the deltoids. For some reason, the bar does not feel as secure here, and I have been getting shoulder pain from squatting which is a totally new thing for me. Some sets, my shoulders hurt more than my legs, and it feels awkward. I was hoping someone could give me some pointers on the technique for the low bar position, maybe reading it described a different way I will see if I am doing something wrong. Also I was wondering if maybe it is just a flexibility issue that will improve over time, since I do have flexability issues.

Thanks for the help!
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Old 08-22-2007, 08:57 PM   #2
Veronica Carpenter
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Re: Squat Bar Position - Shoulder Pain

not sure if I'll be of any help, but...

If it's painful/uncomfortable squatting in a low bar position, why do it? I prefer holding the bar high on the meaty part of the traps.
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Old 08-23-2007, 08:20 AM   #3
Roark Marsh
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Re: Squat Bar Position - Shoulder Pain

It took me a few workouts to get used to the new bar position. Took my traps a few weeks to get used to squatting high too. Anything new will take some time to accommodate. Then again, as Veronica said, if it hurts too much you can always try something else.

I'd say give it time, and move the bar around until you find a solid position that's reasonably comfortable for you.
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Old 08-23-2007, 11:14 AM   #4
Franklin Shogie
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Re: Squat Bar Position - Shoulder Pain

Chris,

if the pain is in th front of your shoulders it could be that your shoulders are too tight.

to help remediate that problem try "shoulder dislocates" with a pipe of PVC.
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Old 08-23-2007, 01:28 PM   #5
Mark Rippetoe
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Re: Squat Bar Position - Shoulder Pain

I use the low-bar position for a number of very good reasons, none of which matter if you can't actually use it. Shoulder tightness - either bony capsular-type tightness like old guys have, that might not go away, or soft tissue tightness that can be stretched out over time - is the usual cause for not being able to use the low-bar position.

Widening the grip reduces the acuteness of the angle that the humerus needs to make with the shoulder joint, and will take some of the stretch out of the position, but be sure that you keep your elbows up so that the posterior delts stay contracted and provide a "shelf" for the bar to sit. The stretch provided by the position itself will usually produce a more comfortable low-bar squat within just a few workouts. But if you find that after adjusting grip width you still can't use the low-bar position, just squat however you need to.
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Old 08-24-2007, 06:49 PM   #6
Boris Bachmann
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Re: Squat Bar Position - Shoulder Pain

These videos might help:

Bar Positioning & Squat Depth
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eZ1HzoH0Rw

Shoulder Pain When Squatting
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=steEXp9M4hQ

Last edited by Boris Bachmann; 08-24-2007 at 07:13 PM..
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Old 09-12-2007, 11:30 AM   #7
Matt DeMinico
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Re: Squat Bar Position - Shoulder Pain

Someone who used to be a competitive powerlifter (went to Spain in 1992 and competed for the US) showed me the low bar position today. I asked him to check my position for going down to a full depth, and he checked that out as ok, and then said I was struggling with the bar because it was too high on my shoulders, and I had to struggle to keep it up without falling forward. He said to try the low position, and showed it to me, and it felt great actually. Much less stress on my shoulders (put it this way, I shoulder press under the "novice" level, and back squat and deadlift almost halfway between intermediate and advanced, so guess how teeny my shoulders are).

I like it for both a comfort thing, but also I think one of my near-injuries came from trying to resist the bar coming forward during squats, and I might have strained a hip flexor, trying to keep my back upright and not dipping forward.

But, some website (I know, don't listen to them) said that the low position puts your back farther forward at an angle, and more stress on the lower back. Is this true? From all I understand, it doesn't matter as long as you keep your back straight and tight.
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Old 09-12-2007, 01:16 PM   #8
David Aguasca
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Re: Squat Bar Position - Shoulder Pain

matt, i believe the reason that rip advocates the use of the low-bar position is because it reduces the lever-arm of the back, putting LESS stress on the lower back and more on the posterior chain.


the first couple sessions i return to back squatting i've had some shoulder discomfort...after a while it disappears. ever since i started using it, i can't imagine going back to high-bar squatting...the tightness required for the low-bar position seems to help my lumbar alignment throughout the movement, and lets me squat bigger weights.


coach rip, do you think that there's a difference in the way you should bail out of a squat depending on your bar position? this is assuming you don't have a power rack or spotters...
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Old 09-12-2007, 07:27 PM   #9
Matt DeMinico
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Re: Squat Bar Position - Shoulder Pain

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Aguasca View Post
matt, i believe the reason that rip advocates the use of the low-bar position is because it reduces the lever-arm of the back, putting LESS stress on the lower back and more on the posterior chain.


the first couple sessions i return to back squatting i've had some shoulder discomfort...after a while it disappears. ever since i started using it, i can't imagine going back to high-bar squatting...the tightness required for the low-bar position seems to help my lumbar alignment throughout the movement, and lets me squat bigger weights.


coach rip, do you think that there's a difference in the way you should bail out of a squat depending on your bar position? this is assuming you don't have a power rack or spotters...
Yeah I might have to learn that one, my power rack is too skinny to allow me to do squats inside my cage (my hands would hit the bars with the wider grip). I might have to modify that, but for now, um... we'll see what happens.
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Old 09-12-2007, 08:14 PM   #10
Chris Finegold
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Re: Squat Bar Position - Shoulder Pain

Thanks for all the advice guys, I think you were right and it was a flexibility issue, since it steadily improved and I now have almost no shoulder pain with the low bar position.

Thanks again for all your responses.
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