T Nation

Squatting Shoulder Pain


Any opinions about any devices / techiniques to alleviate shoulder pain when back squatting. How is the Manta Ray? Dave Draper's Top Squat Bar attachment looks like the one Westside uses alot. It costs 150 though. Has anyone used these? Lastly, will static pectoral/shoulder joint stretching (not before lifting) help?

I've always had fairly extreme shoulder flexibility. However, since I've been concentrating on "sitting back" into the squat, my shoulders hurt.


Try using a thumbless. That seems to help me keep less pressure (twisting) on the shoulder joint.



Try wideing your hands out on the bar. It's something I have been doing and it seems to help.


Chances are that you lack the flexibility to use the low-bar position. It'll come with time.

Elevating the bar won't help at all; in fact, it'll make it more difficult to use the low-bar position. Just focus on bringing up your flexibility and you'll be fine.

As the others said, keeping your hands out wider for now will help.


Due to major shoulder issues Ive avoided surgery on for years, I now do squats with my hands all the way outside the collars. I grip the ends of the plates. I couldnt figure out why my shoulders hurt so bad on squats (I used to be narrow grip low bar), but a sports med guy told me about the pressure of the internal rotation blah blah Im not exactly sure the techno stuff about it...I changed to gripping the plates outside the bar and have been fine since.

I dislocated my shoulder in college football, they said I needed surgery but I didnt want to miss spring ball so said no...then in grad school in jujitsu I dislocated it the other side, so they said both the front and rear of my capsule was "bankhart lesions" or something, basically I think they said I had a spot in front and rear where it was punched out. I have detached tendons, a hooked clavicle which impinges my rotator cuff, and spurts in my AC joint. I still squat fairly heavy (sets with 405), clean moderately heavy (sets in the 255-305 range for 3-5 reps), snatch, and overhead press. I dont have any major pain unless I do too much benching or other upper body work. I stick to close grip. Again I dont know all the technical stuff, but the doctor joked I needed major surgery and someday will have to get it. For now I survive I think by keeping all the back and shoulder muscles in check.

Moral to the long boring story, if you cant find a way to rid the pain, widen the grip. Good luck!


Do a web search for a broomstick subscapularis stretch, it did wonders for me.


I secon the thumbless grip suggestion. Assuming you've got some traps and have squatted enough to intuitively know where the bar rests on your back, you can get away with holding it with just the tips of your fimgers. This make s aworld of difference for my many-times-separated shoulders.


Another suggestion to try:

Pre-exhaust your quads and glutes with leg-extensions and barbell lunges. You can then do squats with good form and less weight. The lowered weight should allow you to do them comfortably. You can build up weight over time which will allow the bar's resting area to build up tolerance for the heavier weight.

Good luck!


After R-cuff surgery, I purchased the "Top Squat" from Dave Draper. I have no reason to regret it! I experiance no shoulder pain and it allows an upright posture. I would use it with or without sore shoulders.



I second that. One of my best purchases. I don't recall it costing as much as 150 either ...


The Draper rig and Manta Ray are both good for giving your shoulders a rest. In addition, both change your groove significantly and make squats more difficult, particularily in the mid range- similar to a safety-squat or cambered bar, but cheaper of course.