Daily Mobility Exercises by Dr. Kelly Starrett Forums General External Rotation & Front Squats

Viewing 9 reply threads
  • Author
    • #70752

      I’ve been dealing with a LONG-TERM mobility issue that impacts my entire left shoulder complex. While surgery might remove the mechanical problem, no one will promise that my shoulder will work any better afterwards so I am not going there.

      The problem causes significant external rotation issues on that one side only, internal is fine. I don’t even consider going overhead (and my coach won’t let me) because the rotation problem is enough to make proper OH form impossible, so I focus on the possible. Lifting on planes below my shoulders work fine (deadlifting, goblets, swings, back squats (with caution), etc.
      I would really like to do a proper front squat, but my hips can’t seem to hinge properly into a true squat and my coach thinks it is related to the shoulder external rotation problem. I CAN do a good squat as long as it isn’t a front or OH squat. I may be fated to limit myself to goblet squats, but I’ve not yet given up on front squats. My coach thinks that my arms are so uncomfortable in the position (arms crossed in front of me, not the more traditional stance), even though it feels fine to me, that the downward chain is trying to do different things to give me a stable position but it just isn’t working.
      So my question is this, what IS the impact of external rotation on the front squat? Is there anything I can do that might help otherwise – there is little I can do about the external rotation problem outside of a surgeon’s office but I am wondering if there might be other things impacting it that I CAN do something about. I already do mobility work that focuses on neck, lats, pecs, rhomboids (mine isn’t normal on that side). I’ve a good squat as long as there isn’t any OH work (which includes wall balls).
      Any suggestions would be appreciated, and right now I am limited to the free video archive… Thanks for your thoughts!
    • #73960
      AvatarNathan Richer

      definitely would avoid surgery for as long as possible!

      have you tried mobilitywod smashing and mobilizing to improve your shoulder external rotation? what seems tight or limiting, or sore or painful to you on your body – anywhere – in/near shoulder or elsewhere on your torso, or up your arms?
    • #73961
      AvatarNathan Richer

      oh and did you have a previous shoulder injury or did you just discover this when you started lifting?

    • #73962

      My coracoid process is blocked from moving properly – and yes, I did smashing and mobilizing for months until we figured out the problem. I had a broken humerus and collar bone at 13 that wasn’t treated properly and then I was sedentary for the next (mumble, mumble) decades. Consequences from the improperly treated shoulder has led to a mechanical problem that has really effected my external rotation. Thankfully that shoulder is VERY stable, so deadlifting and related lifts aren’t a problem. The problem comes when I want to do something at shoulder height or higher.

      What I am trying to figure out is if there is something else that might be impacting my front squat that I CAN do something about, or, conversely, if I might be blaming my front squat problem on my shoulder when it is something else. I do lots of mobility/smashing/etc on neck, traps, scapula, pecs, first rib (as much as I can), and also work on hips, quads, hammies, calves and feet.
    • #73963
    • #73967
      AvatarNathan Richer

      hmm if you lay down straight with legs/feet together and brace your torso, can you move both your arms into the overhead position without pain or restriction? have you seen a PT about this?

    • #73968

      No, David that is impossible, and there are mechanical reasons for that. Yes, I’ve seen multiple specialists on this. PT, ART, chiropractors. I am now working with an Osteopath who has had more positive results than anyone, but there is only so much improvement that can be expected without surgery. So far there are no recommendations to pursue that as they consider it quite likely that my shoulder wouldn’t improve – this dysfunctional situation has been around for most of my life. I am not trying to work on my OH position – just focusing on my front squat and trying to determine if that needs to go the way of OH lifting or if I’ve hope. 

      Kaitlin, thanks for the links to the triceps and elbow information, I hadn’t thought about those! It can’t hurt to try 🙂
      I AM very thankful that my shoulders are so stable however, I can lift anything below shoulder level without a problem, and my Osteopath’s exercises are even finally allowing me to gain a bit of strength in my bad shoulder/arm – I really didn’t think that was possible!
    • #73969

      Good to hear you are finding out the cause of some restrictions and what is/isn’t possible within your situation.
      Great that you are seeing improvements where improvements can be expected.
      I would agree that surgery for the sake of surgery isn’t a good idea. Where it healed incorrectly many years ago this limits options and outcomes with opening it up again.
      Learning to work within your ranges and feeding as much slack as possible will allow you to get the most out of the situation. Yes there may be some skills you aren’t able to perform, but its not from a lack of trying. There is a mechanical restriction that won’t allow it. So focus on what you are able to do.

      Feeding slack from the elbow,lateral seam, and tricep can help to improve position if these areas are tight.

    • #75822
      AvatarErin SIMS

      Have you ever tried using towels so you can get the elbows into a front rack video attached not me. He is using deadlift straps I think in the video.


    • #75823

      This thread is more than a year old. But I will provide an update in case others have this problem. As it turns out, my left scapula is almost entirely frozen as a consequence of a 40+ year old injury. Bilateral lifting just isn’t in the cards for me. That “little” problem affects my entire movement pattern on that side and bilateral lifting is just plain ugly.. We focused on that area for several years with everything short of surgery – and THAT isn’t guaranteed to actually work. I also won’t undergo surgery so I can do Olympic lifting. I have moved onto other lifting styles and activities that my body can actually do properly. My shoulder anatomy isn’t normal and that isn’t going to change. While I am doing very different things these days, my body is responding without further injury. I will take it! To me the most important thing is to focus on physical activities that are sustainable for life, and for me, this isn’t.

Viewing 9 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.