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Hack Squat Hurts Your Shoulders? (Why It Gives You Marks!)

If you’re wondering why hack squat hurts your shoulders, then you’ve come to the right place!

In this article, we look at why this exercise can cause shoulder pain as well as why you sometimes get shoulder marks after performing hack squats.

Woman doing a hack squat in a gym

Why Hack Squat Machine Hurts Your Shoulders (3 Reasons)

Weak Shoulders

If your shoulders hurt during hack squats, it could be a sign that your shoulders are weak compared to other muscles in your body.

Although your shoulders aren’t involved in the squatting movement, they have a lot of work to do supporting the weight.

Obviously, the hack squat machine has pads where the machine sits on your shoulders, but this is just for comfort and does nothing to help you support the weight on the machine.

If you have weak shoulders, they may struggle to support the weight you’re squatting. 

When it comes to lifting heavy weights, you’re only ever as strong as the weakest muscle used in the movement.

This means that if your shoulders are weak, not only could they hurt during hack squats, but they could actually stop you from lifting as much as you need to.

Poor Shoulder Mobility

Your shoulders hurting during hack squats might not be due to the strength of your shoulders or the weight on the machine.

It could simply be that your shoulders don’t have enough flexibility to get into the position needed to get your hands onto the machine handles.

This simple issue could result in your shoulders hurting during hack squats as they struggle to maintain the appropriate arm position throughout the exercise.


Man in pain holding his shoulder in the gym

There’s always a possibility that pain felt in your shoulders when using a hack squat machine is due to an injury.

While pain and discomfort in your shoulders don’t necessarily mean you have an injury, you may want to speak to a medical professional if you’re concerned that the pain you’re feeling could be something more serious.

What Causes Shoulder Marks After Hack Squats?

After using a hack squat machine, you may notice some light bruising or marking on your shoulders.

Usually, these are nothing to worry about and are simply caused by the pads pressing down onto your shoulders with a heavy weight added to the machine.

This can cause small capillaries in your shoulders to burst causing some small areas of bruising.

These usually clear up within a couple of days but if they don’t seem to be fading, then you may want to check with your doctor that all is well before doing hack squats again.

Are Hack Squat Machines Bad For Your Shoulders?

If you do hack squats with the correct technique, are properly warmed up, and you’re trying to lift a weight appropriate for your current fitness level, normally, hack squat machines are perfectly safe and aren’t bad for your shoulders.

That being said, if you have any underlying shoulder issues, if you haven’t properly warmed up and prepared your body for exercise, or you’re trying to lift too much weight too soon, there’s a chance that hack squat machines could be a factor in shoulder issues developing.

How To Reduce Shoulder Pain When Doing Hack Squats

Relax Your Shoulders

If you’re holding tension in your shoulders, you might find that they’re sore or uncomfortable during hack squats. 

A simple way of trying to keep your shoulders comfortable while using hack squat machines is to focus on keeping your arms and shoulders relaxed throughout the exercise.

This can help minimize any tension in your shoulders which can reduce and ease any tightness or stiffness.

When lifting heavy weights, it’s fairly common to tense up. But this can actually cause issues for you instead of helping you move the weight.

Relaxing as much as possible while you train can go a long way in making you feel as comfortable as possible as you move toward your fitness goals.

Stretch And Warm Up Properly

Warming your shoulders up properly, including doing relevant stretching and mobility work, can help prevent discomfort in your shoulders while you’re using a hack squat machine.

Without a proper warm up, your working muscles can struggle to go straight into the hard work required of them during your workout.

A good warm up will increase blood flow and prepare your muscles gradually for the stress about to be placed on them during training.

Should You Avoid Hack Squats If They Hurt Your Shoulders?

This will depend on why your shoulders are hurting in the first place.

If the pain and discomfort you’re feeling in your shoulders during hack squats is due to flexibility or mobility issues, then you might be able to effectively do hack squats without making your shoulder pain any worse.

However, if your shoulder pain is the result of an injury, then it’s probably best to avoid doing hack squats until the injury has completely healed and your shoulders are ready to be worked hard again.

Any pain in your shoulders during hack squats needs to be carefully thought about and medical advice should be sought if you’re unsure of how to best move forward with it.


In summary:

  • Hack squats hurts shoulders if you have weak shoulders and/or poor shoulder mobility.
  • Shoulder marks after hack squat are usually no cause for concern.
  • You can avoid shoulder pain by warming up properly and relaxing your shoulders.

That’s all for hack squat, but why does lat pulldown cause shoulder pain? Or why do you get shoulder pain from pull-ups?


Improving Shoulder Mobility