Coach Joe answers a listener question. If would like your question answered post it in the form f an iTunes review to get to the front of the line, just like Neil Tyra!
“I was never able to achieve the rack position for my front squats – mostly due to tightness in my wrists and forearms. Any suggestions on how to resolve?
As a Weightlifter the front rack plays a crucial role in my own performance. Without solid positioning your clean will surely suffer, the jerk will be compromised, and training your front squat can be torture. Its also my experience that the more surface area of our hand that you can get under the bar in the front rack the better. In a perfect scenario you should be able to maintain a solid hook grip with the bar in your front rack and rep out your front squats.
There are a lot of great coaches and weekend courses that teach a relaxed open palm front rack and I do believe it does have a place in training but is not optimal for supporting max loads and eventually going overhead for the jerk.
It is my (Coach Joe) personal experience that most front rack issues aren’t due to wrist and forearm issues. For some quick fixes that don’t involve the wrist check out these two videos ( Front Rack Opener and Elbow Distraction). In fact its my experience that most mobility restriction do not take place where pain is resinating. A quick way to find out if that is the case regarding your wrist and the front rack is to perform a push up. If you can perform a proper push up pain free you most likely have the wrist mobility to hold and maintain a proper front rack. If you can not bottom out a push up pain free then yes you may need to mobilize it. If this is the case there are 3 routes you can go – probably more.
The first and most simple is to stretch the wrist using a PVC pipe. Start the stretch by hold the pipe with your left hand, palm down, and the pipe parallel with the floor (if the pipe were clock hands it would resemble 9:15). From this position rotate the pipe clock wise to 6:00 pm then take you right hand and bring the pipe across your waste line. From here you can use you right hand to exaggerate the stretch on the left wrist. Search and destroy in this position for 2 minutes. Repeat with the right arm, but rotate the pipe counter clock wise.
Second, Distract the wrist. You can do this with a band, as shown by Dr. Danny here. Distracting joints is always a good idea pre workout as it generally yield the highest returns in terms of increasing rage of motion. Smarter people than me, like Dr. Danny and Kelly Starret have said that accumulating 2 plus minutes on a particular joint is crucial to cause a change. I trust their brain and so should you. When people tell me distraction techniques don’t work I generally ask them to show me exactly what they are doing. IN many cases they don’t have enough band tension, aren’t mobilizing in a position that resembles their sport, and do not spend the proper amount of time stretching. Dr. Danny covers one distraction method in the video above. I would also suggest distracting from different plank
Third you can attack the wrist with the voodoo band. This would be highly recommended if your lack of mobility is also associated with pain. Its my experience the voodoo band is a great quick fix regarding pain management. I wrap my wrist with as much tension as tolerable then work through a series of push ups with my fingers pointed in 12, 3, 9 and 6 o’clock positions. I will also hold a plank and with straight arms circle my wrists with my shoulders.
Once you get range back it is also important to strength the wrist. The worst feeling in the world as an athlete is to be sidelined by a bad finger or something pretty trivial like a wrist. Interestingly enough in a conversation with Cheryl Haworth she did site wrist injuries as a pretty common accordance in her own career and the repetitive nature of Weightlifting also lends itself that situation. The fact is the wrist is not a huge joint and can only bare so much of burden.
With that in mind, weekly, I try and get some wrist specific strength work in. Barbell wrist curls, hand stand walks, planks, wheel barbell walks, slow kettle bell work like get ups and arm bars are also key. Training the reflective nature of the wrist is also important. For this simply kneeling, holding, pressing or walking with a kettle bell inverted will do the trick.
Neil, I hope this information helps! Please, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for clarification or reach out to Dr. Danny at email@example.com.
We love hearing from our listeners. If you have a question for myself or Danny the best way to get that question answered is to leave it in an iTunes review like Neil.
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Thanks for listening and remember, If you have a BODY you’re an ATHLETE