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Hack Squat Hurts Shoulders? (Marks & Bruises Explained!)

While hack squats are an effective lower-body exercise targeting the quads, hamstrings, and glutes, some people may encounter shoulder discomfort during this movement.

In this article, we’ll explore the common factors that can contribute to shoulder pain during hack squats and provide valuable insights on how to prevent and address this discomfort for a more enjoyable and injury-free fitness experience.

Woman doing a hack squat in a gym

3 Reasons Why Hack Squats Cause Shoulder Pain

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 sore 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, I recommend you speak to a medical professional if you’re concerned that the pain you’re feeling could be something more serious.

What Causes Shoulder Marks And Bruises After Hack Squats?

After using a hack squat machine, you may notice shoulder marks or bruised shoulders.

These marks are 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 should check with your doctor to rule out any other condition.

Are Hack Squat Machines Bad For Your Shoulders?

Hack squat machines are generally considered safe for the shoulders when used with proper form and appropriate weight.

However, improper technique or excessive weight can lead to shoulder strain or injury.

If you have pre-existing shoulder issues or concerns, you should consult a fitness professional or healthcare provider before incorporating hack squats or any exercise into your routine.

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 aches.

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 should be able to do hack squats without making your shoulder soreness any worse.

However, if your shoulder pain is the result of an injury, then you should 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 is 315 pounds a good squat?

Hope this helped!


Improving Shoulder Mobility