Shoulder Squats

Monday hits the gym routine and your set to smash out a set of wheels, loading up the squat bar slowly getting into the lubrication of the hip, until you suddenly feel a sharp pain in your elbow radiating throughout your shoulder. Squats are the holy grail of strength development yet we ought to consider if our body is ready to handle such a powerful movement, especially with dramatic loads.

Squats are seen as predominantly sagittal in motion, however in order for the body to maintain biomechanic efficiency throughout the squat, elements of both frontal and transverse motion need to occur. Multiple planes of interaction require greater balance between stability and motion, from force closure to form closure how we are able to proprioceptively engage a movement all depends on action and reaction elements of our axial and appendicular anatomy correspond with one another.

Delving deeper into the dynamics one ought to consider anatomical trains and the effect each train has over movement within the body, below is a very basic view of anatomical trains and their use in the body

The Superficial Back Line

Myofascial Tracks

  1. Plantar fascia and short toe flexors
  2. Gastrocnemius
  3. Hamstrings
  4. Sacrotuberous ligament
  5. Sacrolumbar fascia/erector spinae
  6. Galeaaponeurotica/epicranial fascia

Postural function

  1. Prevention of flexion into the fetal position
  2. Postural dominance
  3. Assists cruciate ligaments in a fixed position of knees, maintains postural alignment between tibia and femur.

Movement function

  1. Create extension and hyperextension
  2. Flexion of the knees

General considerations

  1. Mediates posture and movement in the sagittal plane
  2. There are 2 SBL that coordinate by MRF – PMRF activity influence to IML (hemispherical asymmetry)
  3. Common postural compensation patterns:
  • Ankle dorsiflexion limit
  • Knee hyperextension
  • Hamstring shortness (substitution for short deep lateral rotators)
  • Anterior pelvic tilt
  • Sacral nutation
  • Lordosis
  • Extensors widening during thoracic flexion
  • Suboccipital limitation *cervical hyperextension
  • Anterior shift or rotation
  • Eye spin movement disconnection


  1. Downward facing dog
  2. Seated forward bend
  3. Plow position

The Superficial Front Line

Bony Stations

  1. Dorsal surface of the phalanges
  2. Tibial tuberosity
  3. Patella
  4. AIIS
  5. Pubic tubercle
  6. 5th Rib
  7. Sternal Manubrium
  8. Mastoid process

Myofascial tracks

  1. Short- and long toe extensors, tibialis anterior, anterior crural compartment
  2. Subpatellar tendon
  3. Rectus femoris, quadriceps
  4. Rectus abdominis
  5. Sternalis, Sternochondral fascia
  6. Sternocleidomastoid
  7. Scalp facia

Postural Function

  1. Functionally opposes the SBL
  2. Provides tensile balance between the SBL in the sagittal plane
  3. Extension of the toes

Movement function

  1. Flexion of the trunk and hips
  2. Extension of the knee
  3. Dorsiflexion of the foot

*SFL= greater proportion of fast-twitch fiber responses.

General considerations

Creates deep and sudden strong flexion movements

  1. There are two SBL that need to be taken into consideration. Trouble starts when myofascia pull inferiorly on the skeleton from a lower stable station, as seen in a distended belly
  2. Postural flexion of trunk seen through excessive tension in SFL
  3. Forward head posture in excessive tension in SFL
  4. Locked knees in excessive tension in SFL


  1. Cobra stretch
  2. Leaning back into hip extension
  3. The bridge
  4. The backbend

The Lateral Line

Bony Stations

  1. 1st and 5th metatarsal bases
  2. Fibular head
  3. Lateral tibial condyle
  4. Iliac crest, ASIS, PSIS
  5. Ribs
  6. 1st and 2nd ribs
  7. Occipital ridge mastoid processes

Myofascial tracks

  1. Fibularis muscles (peroneals), lateral crural compartment
  2. Anterior ligament of head of the fibula
  3. Iliotibial tract/abductor muscles
  4. Tensor fascia latae
  5. Gluteus maximus
  6. Lateral abdominal obliques
  7. External and internal intercostals
  8. Splenius capitis/Sternocleidomastoid

Postural Functions

  1. Balances front and back lines
  2. Bilaterally balances left and right
  3. Mediates forces among the other superficial lines
  4. Acts to stabilise the trunk and the legs in a coordinated manner to prevent buckling of the structure during activity

Movement Functions

  1. Lateral flexion
  • Trunk
  • Abduction
  • Eversion
  1. Adjustable brake for lateral and rotational movements


  1. Half-moon stretch
  2. The Triangle pose
  3. Cross legs and bend over into SBL stretch
  4. Parighasana

The Spiral Line

Bony Stations

  1. Occipital ridge
  2. Sacrum
  3. Ischial tuberosity
  4. Fibular head
  5. 1st metatarsal base
  6. lateral tibial condyle
  7. Iliac crest, ASIS
  8. Lateral ribs
  9. Medial border of the scapula
  10. Lower cervical/upper thoracic SP
  11. Occipital ridge/mastoid process atlas/ axis TPs

Myofascial tracks

  1. Sacrolumbarfscia, erector spinae
  2. Sacrotuberous ligament
  3. Bicep femoris
  4. Tibialis anterior
  5. Tensor fasciae latae
  6. Internal oblique
  7. Abdominal aponeurosis, line alba
  8. External oblique
  9. Serratus anterior
  10. Rhomboids major and minor
  11. Spleniscapitis and cervicis

Postural function

  1. Wraps around the body in two opposing helices
  2. Joins each side of he skull across the upper back to the opposite shoulder
  3. Wraps the body in a double spiral that helps to maintain balance across all planes
  4. Determines efficient knee tracking in walking through connecting foot arches with the pelvic angle
  5. Creates compensation for imbalances thus maintaining twists, rotations and lateral shifts in the body

Movement function

  1. Create and mediate oblique spirals in the body
  2. Rotations in the body
  3. Steady and stabilise the leg in an eccentric and isometric contraction, to keep it from folding into rotations collapse


  1. Triangle pose variations
  2. Warrior one and two
  3. Seated twist

The Arm lines

Bony Stations

  1. Dorsal surface of fingers
  2. Lateral epicondyle of humerus
  3. Deltoid tubercle of the humerus
  4. The spine of scapula, acromion, lateral third of the clavicle
  5. Occipital ridge nuchal ligament, thoracic spinous processes
  6. Outside of little finger
  7. Triquetrum, hamate
  8. Styloid process of ulna
  9. Olecranon of ulna
  10. Head of the humerus
  11. Medial border o scapula
  12. Spinous process of lower cervical’s and upper thoracic, C1-4 TP’s
  13. Palmar surface of finers
  14. Medial humeral epicondyle
  15. Medial humeral line
  16. Medial third of the clavicle, costal cartilages, lower ribs, thoracolumbar fascia, iliac crest
  17. Scaphoid, trapezium outside of of thumb
  18. Styloid process of the radius
  19. Radial tuberosity
  20. Coracoid process
  21. 3rd to 5th ribs

Myofascial tracks

  1. extensor group
  2. lateral intermuscular septum
  3. deltoid
  4. trapezius
  5. hypothenar muscles
  6. ulnar collateral ligaments
  7. fascia along ulnar periosteum
  8. triceps brachii
  9. rotator cuff muscles
  10. rhomoids ad elevator scapulae
  11. flexor group, carpal tunnel
  12. medial intermuscular septum
  13. Pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi
  14. radial collaterals ligaments, thenar muscles
  15. radial periosteum, anterior border
  16. Biceps brachii
  17. Pectoralis minor ,clavipectoral fascia

Postural function

  1. Strain from elbow effects mid back
  2. Shoulder malposition can create a significant drag on ribs, neck and breathing function

Movement functions

  1. Close connection with eyes perform
    • Examination
    • Manipulation
    • Moving through environment
  2. Brings things toward us
  3. Pushes things away
  4. Stabilises the body
  5. Holds parts of the world still for pursue and modification

Overview of complementary function

  1. Shoulders •Superficial lines are more muscular •Deep lines are more fascial
  2. Upper arm •Superficial lines are more fascial •Deep lines are more muscular
  3. Lower arm •Superficial lines are more muscular •Deep lines are more fascial
  4. Hand •Superficial lines are more fascial •Deep lines are more muscular

*Rotators effect

  1. the upper arm
  2. the hand

*Prime movers effect

  1. shoulder
  2. lower arm

*Overuse of poor lines of accuracy will drive impulse away from the entire line creating compensation to a segment of myofascia within local action of the express nature to the fascial line. Eg: partial elbow extension/flexion shortening the distal fibres of either the triceps/biceps influencing function of the rotator cuff musculature.

The Functional lines

Bony stations

  1. Pes anserinus, medial tibial condyle
  2. End of ribs 10-12
  3. Shaft of humerus
  4. Linea aspera of femur
  5. Pubic tubercle and symphysis
  6. 5th and 6th rib cartilage
  7. shaft of humerus
  8. tuberosity of tibia
  9. patella
  10. shaft of femur
  11. sacrum
  12. shaft of humerus

Myofascial tracks

  1. Sartorius
  2. External oblique
  3. Latissimus dorsi, outer edge
  4. Adductor longus
  5. Lateral sheath of rectus abdominis
  6. Lower edge of pectoralis major
  7. Subpatellar tendon
  8. Vastuslateralis
  9. Gluteus maximus
  10. Sacral fascia
  11. Lumbodorsal fascia
  12. Latissimus dorsi

Postural function

  1. Strong stabilising functions in positions outside the resting standing posture
  2. Postural compensation is a preference rotation usually associated with the handedness of a specific activity such as sport, where one’s shoulder draws closer to the opposite hip repetitively

Movement function

  1. Give extra power and precision to movements of the limbs through • Linking their lever arm • Linking across the body to the opposite limb in the other girdle
  2. Appendicular supplement to the spiral line

Key points of consideration

  1. Rarely employed in stabilising standing posture
  2. Involved during an athletic activity where one appendicular complex is stabilised or powered by its contralateral compartment


  1. Triangle
  2. Reverse triangle
  3. Kneeling reaching up and back with a slight rotation toward the reaching arm

The Deep Front Line

Bony Stations

  1. Mandible
  2. Hyoid bone
  3. Posterior manubrium
  4. Posterior surface of subcostal, cartilages, xiphoid process
  5. Lumbar vertebral bodies
  6. Basilar portion of occiput, cervical TP’s
  7. Lumbar vertebral bodies
  8. Lumbar vertebral bodies
  9. Lumbar vertebral bodies of TP’s
  10. Lesser trochanter of femur
  11. Medial femoral epicondyle
  12. Linea aspera of femur
  13. Lumbar vertebral bodies
  14. Coccyx
  15. Ischial ramus
  16. Medial femoral epicondyle
  17. Medial femoral epicondyle
  18. Superior/posterior tibia/fibula
  19. Plantar tarsal bones, plantar surface of toes

Myofascial tracks

  1. Suprahyoid muscles
  2. Infrahyoid muscles, fascia pretrachialis
  3. Fascia endothoracica, transversus thoracis
  4. Fascia prevertebralis, pharyngeal raphe, scalene muscles, medial scalene fascia
  5. Posterior diaphragm
  6. Anterior longitudinal ligament, longus coli and capitis
  7. Psoas, iliacus, pectineus, femoral triangle
  8. Medial intermuscular septum, adductor brevis and longus
  9. Anterior sacral fascia and anterior longitudinal ligament
  10. Pelvic floor fascia, levatorani, obturator internus fascia
  11. Posterior intermuscular septum, adductor magnus and 
  12. Fascia of popliteus, knee capsule
  13. Tibialis posterior, long toe flexor

Postural function

  1. Lifting inner arch of foot
  2. Stabilising each segment of the legs including the trunk
  3. Supports the lumbar spine from the front
  4. Surrounding and shaping the abdominopelvic balloon
  5. Stabilising the chest whilst allowing expansion and relaxation during breathing
  6. Balances fragile neck and heavy head on top

Movement function

  1. Breathing
  2. Hip adduction
  3. NO movement in all trains is outside its influence
  4. Stability and subtle positioning changes

General considerations

  1. Failure of the DFL to work properly does not necessarily involve an immediate or obvious loss of function
  2. Function can usually be transferred to outer lines of myofascia but with less energetic efficiency, thus adding more strain to the joints and peri-articular tissues, which can set up as continuous conditions over time for injury and degeneration.
  3. Interposed between the right and left lateral lines
  4. Sandwiched between the SBL and SFL
  5. Surrounded by helical spiral and functional lines
  6. DFL = body’s myofascial core
  7. DFL = integrates into a 3D space
  8. DFL= supporting muscles for the legs
  9. DFL= support for the hip during breathing and walking
  10. DFL = support for the trunks ventral components and neuromotor chassis.
  11. DFL = counterbalancing pulls of both the SFL and SBL


  1. Diaphragmatic breathing is the best form of stretching for the DFL.

Anatomical trains are complex works of engineering that involve both local to express reactions throughout movement. In order to establish an efficient roundhouse of energetic force distribution, anatomical trains aught to play into consideration of what type of movement the body is being exposed to and at what intensity the movement is accomplished.

In the case of the squat major players of stability would include

  1. Deep arm lines
  2. Spiral lines
  3. lateral lines

All of which work in concert with both the front and back superficial lines to promote motion. Yes there is always going to be a cross over between phasic action to postural reaction, however for the purpose of gross simplicity, when we consider the role both superficial front and back lines play to promote motion in the squat we are able to ascertain as to why and how shoulder injuries may become prevalent whilst grinding out a set for the wheels.

The Superficial back line could be considered the parasympathetic line, in that open posture is maintained, unguarded and willing to promote complete motion throughout anatomy. Whereas the superficial front line is designed to brace the body or pull tissue over vital organs in the apprehension of attack, thus we could assume the superficial front line plays a major role in sympathetic output. Both superficial front and back lines play major role in the health of reaction within the DFL (deep front line) which is closely associated to the state of the autonomic nervous system and general state of stress perception. Performance requires balance between not too much stress nor too little enthusiasm, thus squatting in a state of autonomic equilibrium can be assumed to promote efficiency throughout supportive anatomical trains within their role of increasing stability.

When our fascia is compromised due to stress so too would we notice an impaired autonomic function and reaction, thus squatting in either an excessively sympathetic or parasympathetic state will exacerbate compensation to accessory and stability trains, thus promoting inhibition or facilitation of tissue. In the case when we squat in a sympathetic state, one also would notice tightness around the medial rotators of the shoulder which lead to elevation and protraction of the scapula.

Eccentric loading of a squat requires external rotators and scapula depressors to be functional in setting the thoracic cage in opposing tension to the pelvis, thus promoting counter force in preparation of concentric reaction. When fascial systems are sympathetic however, optimal anatomical reaction is not present, leading the shoulder into a state of strain of tendinous junctions, promoting strain to tissue in the rotator cuff.

Consider the following when next delving into an exercise programme

  1. What degree of intensity are you following the day of and after in your programme? It takes time to adapt to stress, if your jumping the gun and demanding extension of tissue that is still hypertonic due to sympathetic reaction, you may be promoting vulnerability to injury. An example of this would be doing heavy pull ups the day after heavy squats (if your nervous system is still sympathetically dominant)
  2. Exactly what are you doing after your squat? Going straight back to the office chair, or considering activity in transverse and frontal planes through dynamic interaction?
  3. Do you have pain or lack of motion? If you can’t squat on a particular day of your program simply because your too tight, don’t force it! Give your body the opportunity to let go of tension through parasympathetic action to enable greater sympathetic output.

Anatomical trains integrate the function of Biotensegrity to adjust to the proposed demand our environmental factor may provide. Positive or destructive adaptation is developed through balance of both sympathetic and parasympathetic reactions. From the food we eat, stimulus we expose our physiology, the way in which we move, every element of our daily routine provides fuel for outcome to either a balanced anatomical train or degenerative compensation pattern.

True progression is sustaining a state of balance! In order to sustain fluidity of function throughout all our bodily networks, it is the responsibility that we seek strategy to help cope with the demands we place on our bodies. Stress is dictated on the state of the environment in which we live, those living in densely populated cities may require far more therapeutic interaction on multiple levels as opposed to natives living in Central America.

Understanding the nature of local influence to express function gives better understanding toward the complete functionality of a roundhouse that encompass our entire movement, function and capacity. Anatomy trains provide a well thought blueprint in which we can architecturally seek strength or fault along a structure and potentially influence adaptation toward a more energetically efficient organism.