I would guess that the majority of the people reading this blog are sitting in a chair slouched over so SIT UP! Whether you are working at a desk job or in class taking notes, a common posture in today’s world is shoulders rolled forward, head a couple inches forward from its neutral position and your pelvis tilting backwards. This leads to a disturbance in your thoracic spine, which affects your lumbar spine along with your neck. If you are an athlete, or coach athletes, this is affecting your workouts, in particular, it is affecting your front rack position.
The Front Rack position is the way you hold the bar for a proper front squat, but it is also used in cleans. The front squat is more functional than the back squat as we are normally carrying something in front of us holding the object with our arms. (John Grace CSCS from AthleticLab.com) Very rarely do we have something on our back that we need to squat. It also puts less strain on the spine while still building lower body strength. The way we are sitting is affecting our front rack position because it is placing our shoulders and back in a weak postural position.
Proper front rack position consists of your chest up, which will extend your thoracic spine. Don’t grab on to the bar, but instead place your fingers on the barbell and rotate your elbows underneath the bar all the way until they are ahead of the bar and your triceps parallel with the ground.
Tightness in our deltoids, latissimus dorsi (lats), and triceps lead to poor front rack position. In order to improve our front rack position you first must SIT UP! The next five stretches will help you improve your front rack position and help you clean up your power cleans. It is recommended to complete these stretches before you start your workout.
Stretch 1 – Grinding The Tris and Lats
Take a barbell and set it to a height where you are able to roll your tricep over the bar and come down to hit your subscapular and superior lat. Rolling back and forth just like you use a foam roller. You can also move your arm in every direction to find your spot that needs the most work and grind it out. Straightening your arm and bending it will also allow you to hit other areas in that area that need to be stretched. This will loosen up your triceps and subscapular regions by activating trigger points and relaxing any tightness. Roll each arm out for at least 30 seconds.
Stretch 2 – Band Stretch
Attach a jump stretch band to a rack and grab the band with one of your arms and walk out bending your elbow as it comes up past your normal front rack position to gain an extra deep stretch. Keep your palm facing up and your elbow in tight externally rotated. Hold for about 30 seconds each arm.
Stretch 3 – PVC Over Head
With a PVC pipe place your knees on the ground and elbows close together on a bench. Keep a straight back while bringing the PVC pipe over the head keeping the elbows close together and the hands wider than the elbows. Move slowly back and forth straightening your arms then curling them over your head again to continue to stretch your lats.
Stretch 4 – Lax Ball Grinding The Subscap
Grab a lacrosse ball and find and open wall and roll back and forth leaning on the wall with the ball between you and then add a little internal/external rotation to gain a deeper stretch. Again this will loosen up your triceps and subscapular regions by activating trigger points and relaxing any tightness.
Stretch 5 – Physio Ball Lats Out
Have your palms facing each other with your arms fully extended and your back flat with hips up. The goal is to have your ears inline with your biceps to gain the full stretch of the lats.