Disclaimer - This article is meant to provide information on wrist pain and does not offer a consultation. If you feel pain, make sure to consult a doctor for professional medical advice.
Low bar squat wrist pain is a commonly reported problem among lifters, but it can be easily fixed if you approach it correctly.
A low bar squat uses the same biomechanics as a high bar squat but the barbell is placed lower on the upper back. Instead of the top of the shoulders, the bar rests on the posterior deltoids.
Compared to a high bar squat, the low bar squat focuses more on the posterior chain, mainly the glutes, hamstrings and back extensors. Whilst low bar squats require more mobility, many lifters feel it increases their lifting performance, making them a popular choice.
In this article, I'll take you through the possible causes and solutions of wrist pain to help get you lifting pain-free.
Common causes of low bar squat wrist pain include grip positioning, bar positioning, and wrist mobility. Changing your grip and bar position, wearing wrist wraps, and working on your wrist mobility are all possible solutions.
Why Does Your Wrist Hurt During Low Bar Squats?
Your hands and wrists are pretty complicated, meaning a lot is happening in such a small space. With complicated joint and tissue structures, wrist pain can be fairly common and caused by different things.
Your Grip is Too Wide
Whilst this is pretty obvious to most people, it's one of the more common causes of wrist pain from low bar squatting. With a bar grip that’s too wide, the angle created from your forearm and wrist position is too big. This leads to pinching of the tissues around the wrist joint which then causes pain. With a grip that's too wide, a common indicator is wrist pain near the thumb.
Your Grip Is Too Narrow
Another common cause of wrist pain is your hands being too close together on the barbell. With a grip position that's too close, the angle between your wrist joint and forearm is too small. This leads to the corresponding bones putting pressure on each other, with the wrist joints bending too far back and leading to wrist pain. With a grip that’s too narrow, wrist pain is commonly felt in the back of the hand.
The Barbell Is Too Low
Whilst a low bar squat places the barbell on your posterior delts, letting the bar slip lower hugely increases the pressure on your wrists, with the joints bending backward far beyond the normal range of motion. This can also be a possible cause of wrist pain in the back of the hand.
How to Fix Wrist Pain While Squatting?
To fix wrist pain while performing low bar squats, start by going through these solutions to find the underlying cause.
Work on Wrist Mobility
One of the most common causes of wrist pain during a low bar squat is a lack of wrist mobility. When self-assessing your wrist mobility, start by checking the available range of motion.
To check both the active and passive ranges of motion, perform wrist flexion, extension, ulnar deviation, and radial deviation.
If you feel more pain with active movement (using the muscles in your wrist) then the pain might be caused by muscles and tendons rather than joints. Passive movement pain (using your other hand to move your wrist) indicates that the issue is your joints.
To work on your wrist mobility, perform soft tissue massages, stretch and do wrist mobility exercises.
Change Your Grip Width
Another common cause of wrist pain during a low bar squat can be your grip width. Grip width refers to how far your hands are apart when gripping the barbell.
As your grip becomes wider on the bar, your wrists tend to radially deviate more, meaning go sideways and inwards. This increased radial deviation with a wider grip width tends to place more stress on the surrounding joints and tissues, causing wrist pain.
Experiment with different grip widths and see if the wrist pain persists before ruling it out. Slowly narrow your grip whilst checking your wrist pain. On the other end, if your grip is very narrow, try to widen your grip slightly to maintain a more neutral position.
Use Wrist Wraps
Wrist wraps provide a simple and cost-effective way to alleviate common wrist pain by providing support to the wrist joints during high-pressure movements such as squats. Wrist wraps help to reduce wrist pain by preventing unnatural ranges of motion and movements that can cause pain around the wrist joint.
The tightness of the wraps should depend on the amount of pain you're experiencing, with the amount of compression supporting the joint but not feeling too painful.
The Warm Body Cold Mind (WBCM) Premium Cotton Weightlifting Wrist Wraps are an excellent option if you're looking for a pair of durable, high-quality wraps. WBCM is well-known for producing premium products at lower price points.
Made from premium cotton that's joined with reinforced stitching, the wraps are designed for repeated, heavy-duty use. With the elastic strap and anchor system, the wraps can be taken on and off within seconds using the thumb loop and wrap-around wrist support.
We Recommend: WARM BODY COLD MIND Weight Lifting Wrist Wraps
Change Your Bar Height
Alongside grip width, the height of the bar can affect your wrist position and therefore cause wrist pain when squatting. Whilst most lifters determine bar height based on performance, changing the bar height when experiencing wrist pain can provide a possible solution.
A lower bar position places more stress on your wrist joints compared to a higher bar position where your wrists tend to be in a more neutral position. Whilst you don't want to sacrifice performance too much, altering the bar height slightly whilst training and changing back to a low bar position when performance matters is one potential option.
This means you can still get stronger whilst experiencing less wrist pain and focusing more on technique and correct bracing or increasing your range of motion through wrist exercises.
Change the Barbell
If you're lifting at a high-end facility, chances are you’ll have access to different types of barbells. A common barbell type that could provide a possible solution to your wrist pain issues is a safety squat bar.
Whilst a safety bar is mainly designed to take pressure off your shoulders, the grip position with your arms out in front of your body releases pressure from your wrists, therefore lowering the chances of wrist pain.
This allows you to perform squats normally whilst working on wrist mobilization and focusing on other possible causes. Alongside this, the safety bar provides an added challenge and it might be something you want to add to your program for good.
How do I stop my wrist from hurting on low-bar squats?
Stopping your wrists from hurting during low bar squats involves a process of elimination where you need to check the underlying cause.
Start by changing your lifting position to see if that helps. Perform the wrist mobility exercises I've described above and use wrist wraps when lifting to provide convenient support to your wrist joints.
Is a low bar squat safer?
Whilst a low bar squat usually leads to better performance, it's much harder to execute correctly for most lifters. Good shoulder and wrist mobility is needed to maintain a proper lifting position throughout the squat, meaning any deviation from the correct position will increase the risk of injury.
Low bar squat wrist pain is a commonly reported problem among lifters. Causes include an incorrect grip and barbell position and poor wrist mobility. By experimenting with your grip and bar position, performing wrist mobility exercises, and using wrist wraps whilst lifting, you'll be lifting pain-free again in no time at all.
Have you experienced low bar squat wrist pain before? Have you tried to fix it? Let me know!
- Work on Wrist Mobility // CrossFit: https://https://www.crossfit.com/essentials/movement-about-joints-part-3-wrist
- Work on Wrist Mobility // ORTHOFIXAR: https://orthofixar.com/special-test/hand-wrist-movements/
- Work on Wrist Mobility // healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/chronic-pain/wrist-and-hand-stretches#simple-stretches
- Use Wrist Wraps // bodybuilding: https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/how-why-and-when-to-use-wrist-straps.html
- Change the Barbell // garagegymlab: https://garagegymlab.com/5-safety-squat-bar-benefits/
My name is Ihor and I have been a professional weightlifter since 1996. With over 20 years of competition experience, my resume includes European Champion in 2009 and the silver medalist at 2011's Senior World Championships – 105kg division.
I competed at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.
After hanging up my own competitive lifting shoes, I decided to share my huge background as a coach. I am currently coaching multiple athletes who are competing at national and international competitions.