Wrist pain during front squats is common, but there are things you can do to fix it.
There are 3 primary reasons why your wrists hurt when you do front squats. You aren’t flexible enough, you are squatting too heavy, or you have a wrist injury.
First, I will explain what the proper technique for a front squat is. Then I will provide you with how to fix it so you can do front squats pain-free.
First, Learn the Proper Form
Doing a front squat with good form starts with getting into the right setup position.
- Position the bar in the rack just below your shoulders, so you have to dip under the bar to unrack it.
- Place your hands on the bar just outside your shoulders.
- Bring yourself under the bar. Place the bar on top of your shoulders with only a few fingers under the bar.
- Lift your elbows high, so your upper arms are parallel with the ground.
- Keep your gaze forward.
Once you have mastered the setup, you are ready to perform the perfect front squat.
Execute the movement:
- Stand up to lift the bar out of the rack and take two small steps back, placing your feet shoulder-width apart with toes pointed slightly out.
- Sit back into a squat by keeping your weight on your heels and your torso lifted.
- Keep your upper arms parallel to the floor for the entire movement.
- Return to standing by pressing your feet into the floor and pushing your torso into the barbell.
- Take two small steps back toward the rack and dip your knees to place the barbell back into the rack.
Now that you know how to do front squats properly, I will explain why your wrists hurt and what you can do to fix it.
Why Your Wrists Hurt & How To Fix It
1. You Aren’t Flexible Enough
Lack of flexibility in your wrists, forearms, triceps, and lats can all make it hard to hold the bar in the correct position for front squats. Holding the bar wrong can cause wrist pain.
If you cannot get into the correct starting position, you will need to do some stretching to allow you to hold the bar correctly.
Try these 3 stretches to achieve a better position during front squats.
Wrist Extension Stretch
The wrist extension stretch will loosen your forearm muscles and prepare you for the wrist position during a front squat.
- Hold your right arm out with your palm facing upward.
- Use your left hand to pull your hand toward the floor gently.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, and then repeat the stretch on your left arm.
Overhead Triceps Stretch
The stretch is the easiest way to loosen up tight triceps and prepare you for front squats.
If your triceps are too tight, you will have trouble fully bending your elbows. If you can’t fully bend your elbows, you will have pain in your wrists during front squats as your wrists overcompensate for your tight triceps.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your abs tight.
- Lift your right arm to the ceiling.
- Let your elbow bend bringing your hand toward your upper back.
- Use your left hand to pull your right elbow back gently.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on the left arm.
Band-Assisted Lat Stretch
If you can’t get your upper arms parallel to the floor, tight lats are to blame. If your upper arms are not parallel to the floor, it is impossible to get the bar positioned on top of your shoulders properly. When this happens, the bar will press into your hands and can cause your wrists to hurt.
- Loop a resistance band over a pull-up bar, so the band is cinched on the bar, and one side of the loop hangs down.
- Place your right arms through the loop just above your wrist and grip the band with your right hand.
- Step back just far enough to create tension in the band with your right arm straight.
- Step back with your right leg, and drop your chest toward the ground.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat with your left arm.
Practice front squats with an empty barbell or very light weight, focusing on your form until you have improved your flexibility enough to allow you to hold heavier weights in the correct position.
Do these stretches followed by a few sets of light front squats a few times per week, and soon you will be able to front squat heavier weight without your wrists hurting.
2. You Need to Use Less Weight
If you can get into a good starting position, but your form breaks down during the squat, you will need to use less weight on the bar.
The most common signs you are trying to use too much weight on your front squat are that your chest will drop forward, and your elbows will drop.
This happens when your upper back is not strong enough to support the bar in front of your body.
Only do front squats with a weight that you can keep good form throughout the entire movement.
Also, you can incorporate exercises that will strengthen your upper back. The superman exercise is a great way to build the upper body strength needed to do front squats.
- Lay on a mat face down with your arms extended in front of you.
- Lift your arms and legs off the ground at the same time.
- Hold the position for a moment and keep your gaze on the floor.
- Repeat for 10-15 repetitions.
Improving your upper back strength with the superman exercise and forcing yourself to do front squats with your chest and elbows lifted will help you build the strength to do heavy front squats without hurting your wrists.
3. You Have a Wrist Injury
If your wrists hurt every time you do front squats, you might have a wrist injury.
If your workout routine includes a lot of heavy barbell exercises, there is a chance that you strained or sprained a wrist.
Applying force to your wrists while lifting weight can injure the wrist if the wrist is not in the correct position.
When you do a front squat, your wrists are extended to their end range of motion. If you have a wrist strain or sprain, you will feel pain when you front squat.
How to test:
Only a qualified medical professional can accurately diagnose an orthopedic injury.
You can use these guidelines to determine if you should seek medical attention.
- Do you have pain when you move your hands through a normal range of motion?
- Do you have pain when you pull one hand back into full extension with the other hand?
- Do you regularly experience wrist pain when you press into your hands when your wrists are extended as you do on a push-up?
If you answered yes, you might have an injury that needs to be addressed by a medical professional.
How to fix:
Continuing to put pressure on an injury can make it worse. The best thing to do is make an appointment with someone who can diagnose your injury and avoid exercises that make your wrists hurt.
Try an alternative
You can try front squats with your arms crossed to take the pressure off of your wrists. Place the bar on your shoulders. Cross your arms at the wrists on top of the bar with your palms facing down.
Goblet squats and back squats are good alternatives to front squats when you have a wrist injury because you can keep your wrist neutral.
You Can Do Front Squats Without Hurting Your Wrists
You can now see that your wrist pain during front squats is because you need more flexibility, you need to lower the weight, or you are aggravating a wrist injury.
Use the tips in this article to create a plan to build the strength and flexibility necessary to do front squats with good form that won’t hurt your wrists.
Front squats are an excellent exercise for building lower body size and strength, and by following these guidelines, they can help your reach your fitness goals without causing more pain than gain.