I’ve been rehabbing a case of shoulder impingement for several months now… I've had a couple visits to the physio since being injured and it feels like it is almost better. Originally I couldn’t do any rowing movements or chest exercises, however now I’m fine with all those provided I don’t go too heavy.

The only exercise it seems to be interfering with it now is back squats, even if just squatting with no weight on the bar.

I emailed my physio with an update and he said for me to try short lever exercises, which feel great... and my impingement seems to go away temporarily after a couple sets of them.

Thing is, that was 2 months ago and my shoulder hasn’t improved much. It will seem to improve temporarily but as soon as I do back squats the pain returns, and stays for a few days.

Could it be that the squats are preventing my shoulder from fully healing? I really can’t think of any exercise that may be making it worse, and a lot of the exercises I’ve been doing feel great on my shoulder, but it just doesn’t seem to be getting back to 100%

The reason I’m posting this is because there doesn’t seem to be much info online with regards to squats and shoulder impingement

1 Answer 1


I'm not a doctor and can't diagnose medical stuff, go see an actual doctor / physio, etc, etc, etc.

Consider that a disclaimer, this is all my opinion.

Have a look at your grip width. If you're trying to use a really narrow grip to keep upper back tightness, then it'll place a lot of stress on the shoulder structure you're talking about.

If you have a look at the squat technique of a lot of lifetime power lifters, a lot of them have jacked up shoulders, so squat with a wide grip. You should be able to find some articles on squatting with bad shoulders on places like T-Nation or EliteFTS.

You can try a wider grip, right out to the point you're wrapping your arms around the bar with your hands at the bar collars but you'll probably be better with either a more specialist bar (cambered bar springs to mind) if your gym has something like that available (most gyms don't, unless you happen to train at a decent power lifting gym).

If you're struggling with squats that much, then just drop them from your routine and substitute in something else, such as trap bar deadlifts or dumbbell Bulgarian split squats. You can look at the work of Mike Boyle for into on how he dropped back squats for his athletes and what he uses in their place.

Lastly, if your physio isn't fixing your shoulder to your satisfaction, and you're following his instructions to the letter, find another physio (or at the very least, get a second opinion).

  • Alan Thrall commented to this effect in a recent video, he noticed that a lot of strongmen and powerlifters were struggling with their squats due to shoulder and elbow issues. Cambered/Safety Squat Bars were used for high-volume training.
    – John
    May 2, 2017 at 13:23
  • @JJosaur Cool, my work network blocks a lot of sites, so I tend to have to rely on more directed searches for several answers :) Safety squat bars were the other ones I couldn't think of the name of.
    – Dark Hippo
    May 2, 2017 at 13:30
  • Fair enough. Generally high-bar squat is rougher on shoulders, low bar on elbows, front on wrists/shoulders/biceps, overhead on shoulders/wrists/elbows.
    – John
    May 2, 2017 at 14:43