Great work to Innes, Nicole D., Ian and Nicole S. on team "Masters of Disaster" competing this Sunday.
Often, a lack of mobility can cause improper form, pain or even injury during a particular movement. Too often this can be felt during the front rack position of a front squat. It is not uncommon to hear folks say that their wrists hurt or that they are too inflexible to get into a proper front rack. Considering that the front rack position is used for front squatting as well as the proper power clean and squat clean receiving position, it’s important to know how to make this position effective and pain free. First, lets take a look at a good rack. Upper back is proud and tight along with abs. Shoulder blades are neutral or slightly pulled back. The arm is able to rotate outward, allowing the full hand to remain on the bar. Elbows are pointing straight forward with upper arm parallel to the floor.
First thing to review if you’re having trouble in the front rack is to look at your thoracic spine position. Your thoracic spine can be referred to your upper back and is the segment of your spine that attaches to your rib cage. Desk jobs, cell phones, driving and other factors in life, condition us to be slouched over, collapsing at the thoracic spine and creating poor posture. In order to creating proper mechanics in the shoulder and wrists, the spine must be set properly. “Puffing” out your chest or making a “proud” chest can help to stack your spine and counteract slouching. If this is still difficult, increase your thoracic spine mobility by laying on a foam roller and arching your upper back over the roller and opening up the chest.
Next thing to consider is going to be the scapula or the shoulder blade. This is a simple fix, in that all you want to do is pull your shoulder blades down to create a good position. It is often tempting to protract or push the shoulders as far forward as possible. While this may help to short cut into a high elbow position, it puts the shoulder in a much weaker position. So just remember, shoulders down, elbows up!
Next down the chain is going to be shoulder rotation. This is often a big contributor to a painful front rack position and should not be overlooked. In order to keep your hand on the bar and your wrist from being destroyed, your shoulder must express sufficient external rotation or the ability for the arm to rotate away from the body. If the shoulder lacks this ability, it stacks the hand directly on top of the shoulder, forcing the hand open and the bar onto the finger tips. Often this is where people start to experience pain in the wrist and shoulder. Below is a stretch that targets the shoulder.
To perform the stretch,
- Pick up a broom or some sort of pole.
- Reach across the front of your torso with your left hand, holding the broomstick upright in your left hand with your left thumb towards the sky and your pinky towards the ground.
- With your right hand reach up and back over your shoulder to grab the broomstick such that your pinky is towards the sky and your thumb towards the ground. The broomstick should now be resting against the outside of your right bicep.
- Fan your right arm out to the right such that it’s in line with your torso, your right elbow pointing 90 degrees to your right with you upper arm (bicep) parallel to the ground.
Achieving a solid front rack can be very difficult. This doesn’t mean the solution has to be the same. Often, these simple and straightforward drills and positions will improve your front rack right off the bat. If you notice you lack mobility anywhere in the discussion, simply add a short but consistent mobility program to your regiments and improvements will quickly show up!
7 Sets of 2 Reps @ 90+% 1RM
18 Minute AMRAP
10 KB Swings (55/35)