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Thread: Squatting Arm Pain

  1. #1

    Default Squatting Arm Pain

    At the risk of a scolding - I would like to request some advice, and I have used the search function! My left arm has been killing me after doing squats. The pain starts in the muscle/ligament above my elbow (seems to be between the biceps and triceps and runs up my arm to the rear part of my shoulder and often progresses onto my shoulder blade. The pain continues intensely for ~2-3 hours post workout and has completely killed progress on my press and bench. The pain then completely goes away. It resurfaces sometimes when I sleep (which sucks because I can't sleep afterward) or during the next day if I lift something awkward - like a flailing 3 year old.

    I am aware that my grip on the squat is off (my hands are intercepting some of the weight of the bar). I'm working to fix that but it is challenging because every squat session is a new PR on the program and I'm doing all I can just to complete my reps.

    Should I 1) continue increasing weight, take advil and work on shoulder flexibility? 2)take some time off from squatting and just work on flexibility and strengthening assistance muscles in the rotater cuff? 3) deload and work on grip and shoulder flexibility at a lighter weight

    2 and 3 would be a major disappointment since I've hit 280 and am excited about breaking 300. Sorry for the long-winded e-mail and as always, thank you for the advice.

  2. #2
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    What do you do to warm up before squatting?

    Also, have you tried jamming your lower palms into the bar and keeping your fingers free?

  3. #3
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    I have that exact problem. The only permanent way I found to solve it was to switch to high-bar. Believe me, I've tried lots of things.

    You can try wrapping your elbow with a light wrap (helped a little, in my case). If this is a non-recurrent thing, take the ibuprofen (3000mg/day) for 5 days and don't squat for a week. You can't do this all the time though, if it keeps coming back I would consider switching to high-bar.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by mamba12ga1 View Post
    What do you do to warm up before squatting?

    Also, have you tried jamming your lower palms into the bar and keeping your fingers free?

    I don't usually warm my upper body up, but last session I did some shoulder dislocations, but it did not help.

    Re grip: I just make sure my wrists are straight as described in the book, but by the time I go to wrack it, I realize that the bar is wresting in my hand and that I have been pushing up on it.

  5. #5

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    Have you tried working on shoulder flexibility drills? I am reluctant to go to high bar because it is not the Program and would mean a decrease in weight.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by buffalob View Post
    Have you tried working on shoulder flexibility drills? I am reluctant to go to high bar because it is not the Program and would mean a decrease in weight.
    Yes, I have. You are right in your reasoning, you should try your best to keep the squats low-bar.
    This elbow/arm thing has been the main barrier to proper consistent training for me. So I decided to suck it up and just high-bar, because it was either that or haphazard training, benching when my elbow let me, not when I'm supposed to. I, however, am squatting 400 something so I give myself more liberty to do what I feel is right rather than what Rip is right. Not that I stopped listening to Rip or anything, mind you, I'm just starting to give my own (and other knowledgeable coaches') opinion more weight.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by buffalob View Post
    I don't usually warm my upper body up, , I realize that the bar is wresting in my hand and that I have been pushing up on it.
    These are the things yo need to fix. I do the usual shoulder dislocations as well but I also place my hands in the proper grip orientation, duck under the bar, and push my torso forward to strech out my shoulders and elbows more. After streching and when getting in place to unrack the bar, I find that actively lifting my chest up and pushing my elbows back and up actually relieves the tendonitis I have in my left elbow. It also make it impossible for me to carry any weight in my hands.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by buffalob View Post
    I don't usually warm my upper body up, but last session I did some shoulder dislocations, but it did not help.

    Re grip: I just make sure my wrists are straight as described in the book, but by the time I go to wrack it, I realize that the bar is wresting in my hand and that I have been pushing up on it.
    Try warming your upper body up a bit before squatting and see if that helps--especially shoulder movements. I usually incorporate light rotator cuff exercises as part of the warmup. It's worked wonders for the pain during/after squatting.

    As for the grip, it's to each his own--but I've found that jamming the lower palm (right above the inner part of the wrist) into the bar and not worrying so much about the hands has helped to prevent my arms from slowly taking on the weight during the set.

    If none of that works, I do promise you that there is life after low bars. I'm a much bigger fan of low-bar, but I've temporarily switched to high bar a couple times because of a bad left shoulder.

  9. #9

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    Buffalob, I had the exact problem as you. I tried many things, from widening my grip to narrowing it, to shoulder dislocations, and even bicep and other arm work. None of them helped.
    I beat it, though, and solved the problem in one day. My issue was the bar position. I had the bar too low, and needed to lift my arms to support it. When supporting it incorrectly, all the weight was on my shoulders and hands.
    To support the bar correctly, I had ignore the elbows up cue, and concentrate on really squeezing my shoulders back and together. This created a better shelf that is a bit further up on the back. With the bar held in this position, the majority of the weight is on the center of my back, and my hands are pulling the bar down (though not forcibly), as opposed to holding it up.
    I've added a picture of me fucking up next to a grab from the DVD of a guy holding the bar perfectly. The picture angles make it a bit confusing, but if you look at my elbows and compare them to his, you can get a good idea of what is going on.
    lowbarposition.jpg
    I hope this helps.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by buffalob View Post
    The pain continues intensely for ~2-3 hours post workout and has completely killed progress on my press and bench. The pain then completely goes away. It resurfaces sometimes when I sleep (which sucks because I can't sleep afterward) or during the next day if I lift something awkward - like a flailing 3 year old.
    This has been my experience as well. Perhaps the worst part is not the pain, but that it ruins the pressing workouts.

    For me, the pain comes and goes. I'll have a couple of good weeks and then a bad week. I am going to experiment with squatting at the end of my workouts during the arm pain flare-ups, and see how that goes. I know it will prevent ruined bench/press sessions, and I can only hope that the extra warmup provided by these exercises helpes prevent the arm pain in the first place.

    This arm pain or "Headache like soreness" in the elbows, as the book says, seems to be one of the most common ailments around here. I'd really like to know about the background of people who suffer from it vs. those who don't; specifically, the degree to which you were involved with athletics before you did SS. I for one was a complete non-athelete, and I'm wondering if this doesn't have to do with certain parts of my body just not adapting as fast as the strength gains.

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