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Why you have Wrist Pain in a Front Squat and What to do About it!

Wrist pain in a front squat can be incredibly frustrating, especially when your discomfort limits your ability to move weight! We’re going to break down the various reasons why you may experience wrist pain while front squatting and a fix for each reason!

A front squat is a complex, full-body movement that requires a lot of mobility. Each of the following joints need a normal or above-normal amount of mobility in order to complete a front squat –

  • Shoulder
  • Elbow
  • Wrist
  • Mid-back
  • Hip
  • Ankle

Wrist Pain in a Front Squat – It’s Not Always the Wrist

The most important thing to note about the list above? There are six joints requiring mobility and only one of them is the wrist. While most people want to blame their wrist pain on their wrist (after all, it’s the spot that hurts!), wrist pain in a front squat is rarely caused by limited wrist mobility.

You can self-test your wrist mobility by using the photo below. If your elbow passes forwards towards your hand past a perpendicular line with the surface you’re on, you have sufficient wrist mobility.

wrist pain in a front squat - wrist extension mobility
If you don’t have sufficient wrist mobility, a banded distraction is a great way to get the wrist to loosen up.

So, if you have adequate wrist mobility, why can you get wrist pain in a front squat?

Here is why: your body needs a certain amount of mobility to accomplish a movement. If you are lacking mobility in a joint (like that long list of joints we mentioned above), something else has to move more than it is designed to so you can still complete the movement.

In the front squat, the wrist is the joint the body most often turns to when more mobility is required. When a joint moves more than it is designed to move, pain results. Hence, why you can get wrist pain in a front squat if your mobility is limited elsewhere!

Fixing Wrist Pain in a Front Squat

If your wrist mobility checks out, we suggest going through the following drills to see if another joint is limited. The easiest way to see if mobilizing a joint will help wrist pain in a front squat is to do the following:

  1. Complete front squats at the necessary load or volume to cause wrist pain. Take note of which rep you start to experience pain and the intensity of that pain.
  2. Mobilize the joint you think is limited.
  3. Re-test. If you have less pain with the same amount of repetitions or can do more repetitions before you experience pain, the joint you mobilized is contributing to your wrist pain!

If your shoulder mobility is limited, we suggest the following exercise.

Thinking it’s your elbow? Give this exercise a whirl and see if it changes things for you!
Not the shoulder or the elbow? Try the mid-back. This area of the body tends to be stiff in those who work at a desk (so the majority of us!) and those who golf.
Hip mobility is often limited, especially in men over the age of 40. Coincidentally, there are many different ways to mobilize your hips. The exercise below is one of our favorites for squat mobility. Alternatively, this warm-up drill and this banded hip stretch are great options.
Lastly, if your ankle mobility is limited, a banded distraction, as shown below, is our favorite way to loosen up the ankle.

Wrapping Up Wrist Pain in a Front Squat

Using the test, treat, re-test method we described before the mobility drills, give each of these a try and see what has the largest impact on your wrist pain. If you go through all these drills and are still struggling with wrist pain while front squatting, reach out for a free consultation. We specialize in working with CrossFitters and weightlifters and Dr. Sarah is even a CrossFit coach herself!

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