Cross fitters’ shoulder – The overhead squat

Do you have pain in your shoulder when you overhead squat?

Overhead squats are fantastic exercises to strengthen the trapezius and posterior deltoid muscles, and can give you great functional strength overhead.

Strengthening through the kinetic chain with dynamic, multi-joint movements (like an overhead squat) provides great functional strength. Researchers who have investigated the transfer of force from multi-joint movement propose that the co-ordination and through processes involved in complicated, multi-joint movements, enable better transfer of force into functional movements.

However, sometimes performing an overhead squat can be painful – this pain is typically experienced in the front of the shoulder and is usually due to one of two conditions.

1: Not enough movement in your shoulder.

If there is limited movement in your shoulder joint, then reaching overhead creates pressure under the roof of the acromion, and you can develop bursitis or tendon irritation. People who do not have enough movement in their shoulder, typically respond well (and have decreased pain) after performing a sleeper stretch, or stretching their arm across their body. Some people call this ‘ primary shoulder impingement’. Watch out for our blog on primary shoulder impingement coming soon.


2: Too much movement in your shoulder.

Some people have pain with an overhead squat because they have too much movement in their shoulder. The head of the humerus slides forward and places pressure of the bursa and tendons and can result in pain. These people typically have weak rotator cuff muscles and typically respond well to isometric rotator cuff strengthening. Some people call this ‘secondary shoulder impingement’. Watch out for our blog on secondary shoulder impingement coming soon.


If you have specific questions about your shoulder, and want the physios at Auckland Shoulder Clinic to work out why you have pain with you overhead squat, book online for an appointment

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