Front Squat - Shoulder Pain

Background: I am in the 7th week of Rippetoe’s Starting Strength (3x5). I have done front squats exclusively. I started with 205 lbs and am currently at 290 lbs. I use the arms crossed method of holding the weight.

The last four days I have been having left shoulder pain only. More of a dull pain. Not a pain that would make me think it is a serious injury. I just military presses today, so handling weight is not an issue either.

Question: Has anyone done front squats long enough and experienced shoulder pain?

No replies?

Does this mean nobody does front squats or nobody gets shoulder pain from front squats?

hum, just to bump your thread. I never got pain in my shoulders from doing front squats. But then I’ve never focused on them for a long time.

Have you tried using an olympic style grip to see if the pain persists?

Could be an AC joint issue. Do you only have pain when the bar is on the shoulder girdle?

Pain when reaching across your chest?

Pain w/full ROM benching and/or dips?

[quote]Eric Cressey wrote:
Could be an AC joint issue. Do you only have pain when the bar is on the shoulder girdle?[/quote]

No. When the bar resting I have no pain. Obviously when I push on the spot, do a shrugging motion, later raise motion, or lat spread. I did military press (3x5x170) without pain or weakness.


No. Just did those on Monday with no problems. The ‘spot’ seems to be where my trap meets my shoulder. I can’t tell if it is bone or tendon/muscle though. The region is stiff/hard.

Thanks for responding Eric. Big fan of your writing style (and the information of course).

[quote]dfreezy wrote:
Have you tried using an olympic style grip to see if the pain persists?[/quote]

Do you mean clean grip? I tried doing that when I first started. My wrists were not comfortable and too tight. I found that the arms crossed worked just fine. I have been wondering about that though. If the bar placement would be different. I do have the bar against my neck as it is. I can’t imagine it would be too different.

I’ve also been taking Motrin and icing the area several times a day, the last four days.

It sounds more like a rotator cuff issue that may have been caused by something else. The front squat position may just trigger the pain. Does ANY other exercise or movement cause you pain?

To test for rotator issues try clasping your hands right in front of you and push them together, then pull them apart isometrically. If you fell the pain in the same area it’s probably weakness or tightness in one of the rotator cuff muscles. A physical therapist would be a good idea. They can do deep massage and ultrasonic treatments to help with tightness. There are also many exercises you can do to help strengthen those muscles.

Just FYI, I currently have a left, external rotator cuff issue (infraspinatus muscle tightness) and did 215lb front squats yesterday. I use the olympic grip and can certainly feel an ache in my left shoulder, especially at the bottom when the weight tends to pull me forward on the last reps. Ironically, squat day make my shoulder feel better because of the stretching I must do to handle the overhead squats.

I would also suggest you use a broomstick to stretch and increase flexibility in the shoulder girdle.

Sure do. Quite sore, but manageable.

I have AETNA insurance. Familiar with it? I pay the first $5,000 out of pocket. Its called a high deductible health savings account. Quality stuff.

Ah yes. This is more in my budget.

Is this injury anything serious, or can it lead to something more serious?

Will I have to take an extended period off? Thanks.

I’ve been front squatting 3x a week for six months. I actually started front squatting because I dislocated my shoulder, and it was painful to hold the bar when I was back squatting.

The cross arm grip doesn’t put your shoulder in a vulnerable position (contrast that with a BTN press or an upright row). Also, you say you’re holding the bar close to your neck, so it sounds like you have the bar in the right place. My guess is that something other than front squatting is causing your shoulder pain.

Thanks for responding rmexico. I think something has just tightened up. When I woke up this morning my right shoulder felt a little tight. Does this ever occur with new muscle growth?

The difference between muscle soreness from new growth or just DOMS and an actual problem with your shoulder joints should be obvious. For one thing, muscle soreness will only last a day or so.

I would try backing off on the exercises that cause pain and try to get in some stretching and maybe use a heat pad on the area for a while. Fish oil and maybe a joint supplement might also me in order. Mostly these things pass but the shoulder capsule is notorious for nagging injuries so it’s best to be careful with pains in that area.

Thanks again Kruiser. My left shoulder is feeling better today. I’m not going to train tonight so that I have a solid 5 days of rest.

I don’t have pain when I’m exercising, oddly enough. I really can’t pinpoint which exercises to reduce. My only shoulder exercise is military press, lesser degree is bench and dips.

I’ve been taking 6-8 fish oil pills daily the last four months. Got that taken care of.

Anyway, thanks for the pointers. Would still love to hear from Eric though.