Talk To Me Johnnie,
After taking Rips barbell cert I have been low bar back squatting and am managing to move more weight- excellent. Then I discovered CrossFit Football and have added more weight to my back squat- awesome. My problem is massive pain on the medial side of my right elbow. I have sought treatment and been diagnosed “golfers elbow” or medial epicondylitis. I have done some research on the Internet discovering I am not alone and others suffer the same pain from low bar back squatting. While not a common problem it is not uncommon either. There is a considerable difference between the 1RM of my high bar back squat to my low bar back squat. I would like to continue to low bar back squat and keep adding weight. Are you aware of this problem and can you provide any advice.
Since we don’t squat with our elbows we should be able to squat relatively free from elbow pain, right? Most elbow pain I’ve experienced after squats is linked to what happens to my hands during the set. Pain has either resulted from squeezing too tightly, cocking my wrists, or pushing my palms into the bar. You are going to have to experiment with multiple hand placements and a couple of thumb configuration tweaks in order to find a non-elbow hurting position. I’ve also noticed that other activities that involve the elbow being flexed for extended periods of time (video games, typing, peeling bananas, polishing billiards trophies, spanking etc.) seem to directly correlate to elbow pain after squats or other heavy activities. Recently I dealt with a similar problem by making sure four of my fingers were wrapped lightly around the bar and my thumb firmly (not excessively) touching space in between the 1st and 2nd knuckles on my index fingers, with a width that provides enough shoulder tightness for the bar to not crush my scapulae. Like a sorority girl in Cabo, experiment and try not to fuck yourself up too much in the process
haha……I don’t have elbow pain, but that last line made the read entirely worthwhile…..good stuff-
John, I think it’s more complicated than that. I’ve got four guys in my gym, all technically sound and putting up decent weight (for their BW), but they’ve had to all shift to high bar because of the pain.
We played with all kinds of permutations and shoulder/elbow warmups, no improvement.
I don’t know the fix (obviously) but if you could keep your eyes peeled and publish something if you find a good tip, that’d be great. Thanks!
I know Nate had a shit load of elbow pain and when we put the bar a bit higher, base of the traps and had him wrap his whole hand around the bar the elbow pain went away. I think people think the low bar position is just north of the low back. Low bar is base of the traps, high bar is on the meat of the traps. The difference is just a cm’s…try base of the traps, narrower grip and wrapping the whole hand around the bar.
GTG, thanks John. Will give it a try and see what happens.
Hey boys, here’s a perspective for you. Activate the hands by holding onto the bar, keep the elbows UNDER the bar, not behind… You will rarely see anyone at any powerlifting world championships with their elbows up behind them. This will most definitely cause elbow pain not to mention cause the chest to cave in. When you do see the elbows go up and behind the bar its usually because the lifter almost or did lose the bar forward. That usually results in the lifter and everyone in the crowd exclaiming oh fuck that was bad.
Keep your wrists as straight as feasible and elbows down. Find the position in which you are most able to do this.
Keep the elbows down, keep the bar above the top of the deltoid (preferably in the meat at the base of the trap, on a nice shelf), keep the scapulae retracted (pinched together), and drive back against the bar with the shoulders. Drive up exactly opposite of what Rip would suggest, not with the ass but with the shoulders against the bar.
The most common cues you will hear in any language at World’s or any National Level powerlifting meet is Chest Up and Back Back Back (meaning push the bar back with the shoulders.) That’s true in 2ply, single ply and raw.
We have people use the low-bar position without wrapping their thumbs around the bar. This helps them keep their hand, wrist and forearm in alignment. Otherwise, the wrist tends to bend backward and a portion of the load transfers to the wrist and subsequently to the elbow, causing pain.
I experienced the same issue, doing a linear progression, got tendinitis, had to switch to high bar which obviously sucked. I’m still playing around with different hand positions but have yet to crack the code because the pain continues to creep back.
Also, if you are having trouble with your elbows, look at your shoulder mobility. When squatting, no matter where your elbows lay, your shoulders are going through and extension and external rotation under tension. If they are tight that motion will be forced through the elbows and create tension there, thus causing an elbow dysfunction and pain. So prior to squatting, warm up the shoulder as well.
I’ve several times had this exact problem when progressing to over 2xBW on the low-bar back squat. I played around with hand a wrist positioning for a while without seeing improvement. After watching some videos off of the 70s Big (http://www.70sbig.com/) site of the authors’ trainees squatting a found the problem: bar placement.
The bar needs to rest on a shelf created by your rear delts being squeezed back. Placing the bar too low will either leave jammed below or on them (as opposed to on top of them). This results in your back not actually carrying the weight; the elbow joint ends up carrying all the weight with the medial side taking the brunt as you jam the bar between your back with your elbow.
Since I’ve been carrying the bar on TOP of my rear delts, at the BASE of the traps, I’ve continually increased weight with no elbow or wrist pain to speak of. If your shoulders aren’t flexible enough to pull back and create that shelf you’ll have issues with this and will need to go high-bar until your shoulder mobility increases.
I have that same sort of elbow pain. I haven’t had a problem with it in the squat or in pressing movements. Handing the weights while changing them hurts it, as do pulling movements (though an overhand grip isn’t as bad as underhand or parallel grip) and kettlebell cleans and snatches.
Because I’m right-handed, I can only rest it so much.