Have you been trying to get into the position for a particular lift, and it just doesn’t feel right? Particularly in this article, we will be addressing the most commonly overlooked front rack mobility constraints and more importantly, the best ways to fix them. Yes, thoracic extension and shoulder flexion limitations are oftentimes the biggest culprits, but let’s not forgot to address wrist, elbow, and transverse plane shoulder mobility as well. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know to improve your front rack mobility, and your front squat position, and make it easier for you to perform cleans!

 

Self Mobilization for Wrist Extension To Improve Front Rack Mobility

In order to get into a proper front rack position, you need good wrist extension mobility. ENOUGH WITH ALL THESE BANDED MOBILIZATIONS FOR WRIST EXTENSION! All you need is your other hand! It’s more specific, you get better joint play, and you can find YOUR specific mobility restriction.

If a specific motion (in this case wrist extension) is limited, it can be caused by one of 3 things: soft tissue restrictions like muscles, joint restrictions like the joint capsule, and/or bone. Soft tissue restrictions can be treated by a physical therapist with techniques like soft tissue mobilizations (STM) via strumming, rolfing, tac-and-go, active release, or instrument-assisted STM. Similarly, joint capsule restrictions can be treated by a physical therapist via joint mobilizations. Specifically for the wrist, the proximal row of carpal bones in your hand is comprised of the scaphoid, lunate, triquetrum, and pisiform. When you move your wrist into extension, these bones GLIDE relatively in the PALMAR direction, or towards your palm. In order to increase wrist extension, you want to mobilize these bones in the PALMAR direction (towards the ground in this example)

HOW TO: Rest your arm on your lap to relax the muscles. Make sure you aren’t mobilizing directly downwards, the joint line is angled ~10 degrees palmarly (ie towards your elbow) so you must be mobilizing in that direction. I drew a line on my wrist for easy identification. Happy mobilizing! Also, if you are dealing with wrist pain, check out our blog below as we show you some exercises to improve your symptoms!

 

Looking For More Corrective Mobility Exercises For Your Shoulders?

overhead shoulder mobility program front rack constraints the prehab guys

If you are having trouble getting into your lifts such as a front rack, for example, we have educational videos and proper instruction to guide you towards optimal movements! This program is an excellent way to address any deficits you may have with your ability to reach overhead.

 

Front Rack Mobility: Tricep and Lat Stretching

The lats are often the culprit of decreased shoulder mobility for many people so ADDRESSING THE EXTENSIBILITY OF THE LATS IS KEY. What is often overlooked, however, is the importance of also gaining range in the TRICEPS. In the front rack position, your elbows are in a FLEXED position, meaning the triceps are maximally lengthened distally, or closer to the elbow. While the triceps still aren’t in their fully lengthened position proximally – at the shoulder – in the front rack, someone with restriction in their triceps range may still exhibit limited shoulder flexion range of motion. So get your triceps and lats stretched out to achieve optimal front rack mobility!

Triceps Stretch – Dowel

Sample Shoulder Overhead Mobility Program Exercise Video

So while addressing the lats is key, make sure to also address the triceps. Here is a great way to stretch both the lats and the triceps simultaneously. Using a dowel behind your back, slowly pull down on the dowel until you feel a stretch. With the shoulder in flexion, you are getting a great stretch distally. You can also add some trunk flexion, side bend to the opposite side, and posterior pelvic tilt to further increase the stretch of the lats proximally. Now with the elbow flexed, we are further lengthening the triceps distally (in addition to lengthening the triceps proximally with shoulder flexion).

 

Learn How To Assess and Improve Your Shoulder Overhead Mobility

 

Latissimus Dorsi Mobility

Your lats are also a key muscle group that needs adequate mobility to ensure your front rack mobility is optimized. The muscle actions of the lats include shoulder extension, internal rotation, and depression. In order to actively stretch this muscle, perform the opposite! You will be working on dynamic movements that incorporate shoulder flexion, external rotation, and elevation. In particular, should flexion and external rotation both be key for adequate front rack mobility. We will touch on shoulder external rotation in more detail next.

 

Active Lat Mobility

  • HOW: Begin in a kneeling position with your feet pointed down and a foam roller in front of you. Place your wrist on the roller with your thumbs facing up and slightly out. Let your arms roll forward and your chest drops toward the ground. You can spread your knees more to let your chest get lower. Hold that position as prescribed and repeat. 

 

  • FEEL: You should feel a stretch in your lat muscles. 

 

  • COMPENSATION: Keep your thumbs up in order to get a better stretch.

 

Prehab Membership The Prehab Guys

The Prehab membership is the anti-barrier solution to keeping your body healthy. Access state-of-the-art physical therapy, fitness programs, and workouts online in the comforts of your own home or gym! Taking control of your health with exercise & education from the palm of your hand has never been easier. Get access to 50+ programs, 100+ unique workouts, and 3000+ exercises to build your own workout routines. Trial it for free, and learn how to get out of pain, avoid injury, and optimize your health with [P]rehab!

 

Unlock Your Lats

 Lean against a wall with your back flat and feet out with a slight bend in your knees. Raise both arms up as you rotate your hands out. Try to get your elbows to touch each other. Do this in a slow and controlled motion. You should feel a stretch in your lat muscles. Keep your back and head flat on the wall. This may feel quite difficult to perform at first, and your motion feels very restricted. Don’t worry, this is normal! As you practice this active motion more and more, your mobility will improve.

READ: EXERCISES TO IMPROVE WRIST PAIN

exercises for wrist pain the prehab guys

 

Increasing Shoulder External Rotation

External rotation at the glenohumeral joint (shoulder joint) is vital for proper front rack mobility for two simple reasons. First, externally rotating the shoulders allows you to bring your hands CLOSER to the bar. Therefore if shoulder flexion continues to be limited and your hand can’t reach the bar, you can get some extra range by ‘cheating’ and externally rotating your shoulders. Second, in terms of [P]Rehab, external rotation of the glenohumeral joint opens up the subacromial space. This is the space that is commonly narrowed in shoulder impingement, so increasing your shoulder external rotation range of motion will allow for more clearance in the subacromial space and less chance for impingement.

 

Standing Shoulder External Rotation Stretch

To perform, simply use a dowel or stick as demonstrated. Place the stick BEHIND your elbow. Relax your shoulder and with your other arm, PULL the bottom of the stick towards the midline. What’s best about this particular stretch too is that you’re gaining range in the exact same shoulder position necessary for the front rack (>90 degrees of shoulder flexion). Shout out to @unchainedphysio for this one!

LISTEN: OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING AND ONLINE PROGRAMMING WITH DAVE SPITZ

olympic weightlifting online programming dave spitz the prehab guys front rack mobility

 

Closing Thoughts

Front rack mobility is important to ensure you are going to get the most out of your movement from this position. There are a lot of requirements from a mobility standpoint in various areas of our body for this position to be successful, including triceps and lat muscle length, wrist extension, and shoulder external rotation. If you happen to be lacking motion in one or more of these areas, work on some of the dynamic mobility exercises we have shown you in this article and you will improve your front rack mobility in no time!

 

Maximize Your Ability To Reach Overhead

overhead shoulder mobility program front rack constraints the prehab guys

We refuse to live in a society in which posters are hung only to shoulder level height, stale food accumulates at the top of the cupboard, and walls are only halfway painted! Whether your goal is to be able to reach overhead to help us prevent the previously described society or earn the pre-req of full shoulder flexion before lifting weights overhead then this is your program!

 

About The Author

Michael Lau, PT, DPT,  CSCS

[P]rehab Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer

Michael was born and raised in Northern California but now currently resides in Sunny SoCal ever since attending the University of California, Los Angeles as an undergraduate majoring in physiology. After his undergraduate studies, he received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from cross-town rival the University of Southern California. As a licensed physical therapist with a strong background in strength and conditioning, Michael likes to blend the realms of strength training and rehabilitation to provide prehab, or preventative rehabilitation, to his patients. A common human behavior is to address problems after they become an issue and far often too late, which is a reactionary approach. He believes the key to improved health care is education and awareness. This proactive approach-prehab-can reduce the risk of injuries and pain in the first place. He is a huge proponent of movement education and pain science. Clinically, he has a special interest in ACLR rehab and return to sport fo

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer – The content here is designed for information & education purposes only and is not intended for medical advice.

About the author : Michael Lau PT, DPT, CSCS

12 Comments

  1. Patrick Avon October 5, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    Love every single thing u guys do. Any thoracic mobility tips/clips for a 55 year old that loves to clean and snatch but has mega thoracic restrictions?

    • Michael Lau October 7, 2017 at 8:52 am

      Thanks Patrick! We appreciate the love! Lots and lots of ways to mobilize the thoracic spine…best bet would be to head over to our youtube page and search thoracic mobilizations. Remember, not only do you need to mobilize but you also need to work/use that new range and load it!

  2. Alexander Macip August 23, 2020 at 12:24 pm

    hi there, great info!, any recommendations for when the restrictions is felt at the forearm?

    • Sherif Elnaggar August 25, 2020 at 7:10 am

      Thank you for the support! Use our search tab on the website and type in “elbow” or “forearm exercises”!

  3. Luke Frandsen December 10, 2020 at 10:08 am

    These helped a lot! I had a patch of shoulder injuries from returning to sport too early and not listening to my PT… but a few years out I found I was unable to hold the rack position, and now I’m almost there!

    • Michael Lau December 14, 2020 at 10:08 am

      Heck ya luke! Happy that you are almost there in the front rack position. Keep it up! and listen to your PT next time!! haha

  4. Courtney Sampson January 9, 2021 at 4:02 pm

    Great article. How often/long should one do each of these movements?

    • Michael Lau January 10, 2021 at 3:50 pm

      No right or wrong, as much as needed! Try 5-10min per day of work and adjust as needed!

  5. Bethany May 28, 2021 at 2:00 am

    What would be the most likely cause if I can get that position with PVC but I’m unable with even just the 35# bar?

    • Sherif Elnaggar June 7, 2021 at 8:30 am

      Great question! Perhaps working on slowly initiating mobility exercises with lighter loads and progressively increasing that load overtime as your mobility and stability continues to improve!!! Often times, our body may not be ready to stabilize in a particular position once load is added, but with time and repetition it can improve! Hope this is helpful!

  6. Castiglione Andrea September 4, 2021 at 8:46 am

    Is there any rehab for uneven shoulder in the front rack position?

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