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Dad can't squat because of "rotator cuff"...

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  • Dad can't squat because of "rotator cuff"...

    Hello everyone.

    My mom and dad have decided to do some strength training. I'm proud of them and am trying to ensure the best possibility of success for them both, but there's some snags (as there always seems to be when starting).

    I don't know if my dad simply lacks flexibility, or if he just doesn't have the proper body-awareness/motor patterns established to get into proper positioning, but he has a really difficult time getting in position for the squat. He doesn't appear to be able to externally rotate his shoulders enough to get the bar on his back. His doctor has told him he has torn his rotator cuff, and cites this as the reason why he can't squat. Obviously, there's a lot of psychology at play, but I'm trying to think of the best thing I can do to help him, because he has a lot of questionable associations with response to pain and injury. In the meantime, he's just been leg pressing, but I know that is kind of ignoring the issue, nor is it optimal for full-body development.

    What do y'all think?

    Thank you.

  • #2
    Not a doc, but honestly I think it's fine for him to leg press instead of squatting. Unless he's limited in tasks of daily living or specific activities he's interested in (does he have a strong preference for back squatting) by his shoulder flexibility, I'd pretty much ignore it. The only thing I might consider doing is including some vertical pressing and pulling to ensure he's got adequate mobility for daily life. If he's in substantial pain at rest I would make a point of including vertical pressing, rows, pulldowns, and reverse flies, dosing and progressing them according to his tolerance and investigating into if there are any activities (or lack thereof) that regularly lead to symptom flare ups.

    personally my dad has a similar constraint and I just have him doing goblet squats and plenty of DB shoulder press. My grandfather's daily life is limited by shoulder pain so I've got him doing a low dose of light rows and luckily he's able to tolerate a substantial amount of chest pressing. Throughout the day he keeps his shoulder moving doing pushups against the wall frequently. I've only just started helping out my grandfather but he's responded well in this first month.

    It is probably worth trying to understand his exact beliefs about pain and injury and where he got them. Then help him question his reasoning and expose him to different perspectives. I'd pair that with getting some small wins in the gym (successfully doing vertical pressing and pulling with tolerable pain levels, hopefully progressing these movements). You may also want to address his language, if he's saying he can't squat, you could point out that really he just has difficulty tolerating (it's trainable) that position right now (it's temporary). Unless someone is coming to you wanting to learn and understanding that they don't know much, and that what they do know is probably kinda wrong it's not super effective to just present the science straight away.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by 4l3x View Post
      Not a doc, but honestly I think it's fine for him to leg press instead of squatting. Unless he's limited in tasks of daily living or specific activities he's interested in (does he have a strong preference for back squatting) by his shoulder flexibility, I'd pretty much ignore it. The only thing I might consider doing is including some vertical pressing and pulling to ensure he's got adequate mobility for daily life. If he's in substantial pain at rest I would make a point of including vertical pressing, rows, pulldowns, and reverse flies, dosing and progressing them according to his tolerance and investigating into if there are any activities (or lack thereof) that regularly lead to symptom flare ups.

      personally my dad has a similar constraint and I just have him doing goblet squats and plenty of DB shoulder press. My grandfather's daily life is limited by shoulder pain so I've got him doing a low dose of light rows and luckily he's able to tolerate a substantial amount of chest pressing. Throughout the day he keeps his shoulder moving doing pushups against the wall frequently. I've only just started helping out my grandfather but he's responded well in this first month.

      It is probably worth trying to understand his exact beliefs about pain and injury and where he got them. Then help him question his reasoning and expose him to different perspectives. I'd pair that with getting some small wins in the gym (successfully doing vertical pressing and pulling with tolerable pain levels, hopefully progressing these movements). You may also want to address his language, if he's saying he can't squat, you could point out that really he just has difficulty tolerating (it's trainable) that position right now (it's temporary). Unless someone is coming to you wanting to learn and understanding that they don't know much, and that what they do know is probably kinda wrong it's not super effective to just present the science straight away.
      Agree with 4l3x. Unless he just wants to barbell squat (which is fine if he does) then he can still get the benefit of resistance training with implements such as leg press for lower body.

      If he's determined to barbell back squat, then this will require some time getting him into the position to tolerance. I often use a flexible pipe (like PVC) to allow the individual to ease themselves into tolerable shoulder range needed for back squatting while doing some other movement to train lower body for the time being. A safety squat bar is also an acceptable option if he doesn't want to spend time working on the position for barbell back squats.

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      • #4
        110% just get an SSB... currently training with a rotator cuff + bicep tendon tear squatting in the mid-300's for 8's with my SSB...

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