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Avoiding Injuries


Whether it be coaching or working out, I frequently see athletes trying to go heavier than they should, sacrificing good form, especially with cleans, snatches, and overhead squats.  What is important (and difficult for most) to understand is that if you decrease the weight in order to maintain proper form, progress and strength will actually come quicker.

There are a number of reasons for these compensations; I am going to touch on the main ones for each.  (Yes, I understand technical errors cause some of these problems as well, but I am not addressing that issue at this time.)

Encompassing all movements is the most obvious…EGO!  I understand you like get the RX or RX+ by your name, but if you get injured in the process, is it truly worth it?


  • Landing forward on toes:  Likely due to lacking ankle dorsiflexion.
  • Forward trunk lean:  Likely due to lacking thoracic extension or ankle dorsiflexion.
  • Elbows down:  Due to either lacking thoracic extension, shoulder flexion, or both.


  • Landing forward on toes: Likely due to lacking ankle dorsiflexion.
  • Inability to drop below parallel:  This can be due to a number of things.  Lacking ankle dorsiflexion will not allow your torso to stay upright when dropping down and still holding the bar overhead.  Lacking thoracic extension or shoulder flexion will not all you to keep the bar overhead when dropping down into the squat.  Lifting too heavy of weight for what your trunk and hips can control will stop you short of a full squat.

Overhead squats:

  • Inability to keep heels down:  Likely due to lacking dorsiflexion in ankles, but can be due to using too heavy of a weight to control your hips and torso properly.
  • Inability to drop below parallel:  Same as snatch, can be lack of ankle dorsiflexion, lack of shoulder flexion, lack of thoracic extension, or lacking trunk and hip control for the amount of weight being lifted.

Looking for a solution?  Besides just dropping to a safer weight, the ideal fix is gaining the necessary mobility for full and proper movement patterns.  Rather than doing the WOD everyday, take an active rest day to just focus on mobility.  You will find the day off from the WOD and working on mobility instead will actually help your performance rather than hurt it.

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