The BFS staff has been asked to address the pros and cons of wrapping pads around barbells to make them more comfortable when performing back squats. This is how we responded:
"Many beginners find it extremely uncomfortable to hold a barbell on their shoulders. Using a supportive device such as the Manta Ray often resolves this problem, as it distributes the pressure over a larger area. That being said, competitive weightlifters and powerlifters prefer no supportive devices, as they believe it reduces the ‘feel’ of the bar on their shoulders. In fact, with powerlifting barbells, there is center knurling that serves to help dig into the neck for a more secure feel.
"With the Manta Ray, the barbell is just supported from a higher position. Wrapping a towel around a barbell, or using a padded device that wraps around the bar, pushes the barbell backward on the shoulders, which in turn decreases the stability of the exercise. To compensate, an athlete will often roll their shoulders forward, thereby putting the spine out of optimal alignment – this is compounded by the fact that a wrap increases the distance from the bar to the hips, and as such increases the stress on the lower back. The wrap also may increase the risk of neck injury, as it puts the head out of normal alignment. Further, such a wrap increases the risk of the barbell sliding off the back.
If an athlete wants more support or finds that the
bar digs into the back too much, they can simply use a
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