Some people complain they get neck or shoulder pain or discomfort when they squat and will use a bar pad to ease this discomfort.
A common reason why the bar may feel uncomfortable in the first place is because it is usually placed too high and ends up resting on the C7 spinous process (the little bony bump at the base of your neck).
So how can you help avoid feeling this comfort and where is the best place for the bar to rest when doing back squats.....?
With back squats there are generally two positions for placing the bar.
High bar squatting position or low bar position.
For high bar squat the bar is resting on your traps or for low bar squat it rests across rear deltoids or somewhere in between traps and delts. Depending on where it feels best you may want to go higher or lower.
When squatting people may feel comfortable with different bar positions and grip widths.
Personally I prefer the bar lower down on my traps and pull my shoulders blades together to help create a “shelf” for the bar to rest on.
For hand width, a narrower hand position helps keep your upper back tighter and more stable as the closer your hands are together your shoulder blades naturally have to retract harder (this helps create that shelf for the bar to rest on).
It is good to try and get your hand grip as close as it can be without causing any pain or discomfort in your wrists, elbows and shoulders. If you have to go a wider hand position, still try and tense these upper back muscles to help create upper back tension.
Ideally elbows should be down and pulled into your sides, this helps create lat tension to help keep that upper back tightness and torso ridged. However as with hands position, elbow position depends mainly on comfort.
The bar pad shouldn’t really be needed if you find your optimal bar placement, and hand width. Try and find technique, bar resting position, hand width that suits you.
Jamie Miller- Personal Trainer
UK Fitness Personal Training
FITNESS, NUTRITION & PERSONAL TRAINING