Addressing Low Back Pain While Performing A Squat
Athletes around the world regularly perform weighted squats. Research has shown that squatting has a direct impact on your bodys power, which is the ability to overcome a resistance with speed . Therefore, squatting can result in great power and an increase in sprint speed. General benefits include increased flexibility, greater core strength, as well as protection from injury as a result of better coordination of the body.
However, squats have been known to cause unwanted low back soreness. Although squatting will work the muscles of the lower back, if the low back becomes the most targeted region during the squat, chronic soreness and overuse injury can occur. Previous injury to the lower back, poor technique, as well as weakness of the core or surrounding muscles can contribute to this overuse of the back muscles . Barbell back squats are also the most common for causing back pain as the weight is loaded across the back . If you find this movement difficult, but still want to add weight to your squats, you may want to opt for goblet squats or front squats.
- Progressing weight/load too quickly when squatting
- Correct stance and posture
Your Technique Is All Wrong
You must maintain proper form to achieve a successful squat. This is important not just to get the most out of the workout, but also to stay pain-free. From start to end, the manner in which you position your body during the squat is crucial.
Lower back discomfort might occur during or after squatting, if your technique fails or other body parts are used incorrectly. Collapsing foot arches and knees, as well as backward tilting hips, are examples of these breakdowns. When the proper procedure is not followed, the barbell back squat is the most likely to induce lower back pain, due to the weight on your spine, says fitness expert Meenakshi Mohanty.
How To Stop Uneven Back Loading
If you tend to squat with the barbell off-center on your upper back, one side will be forced to work much harder than the other.
This will end up causing lower back pain on one side when you do squats. Make sure that you pay attention when youâre unracking the weight and place the bar dead center on your back on each and every set.
When unracking weight, both of your feet should be under the bar. Never unrack the weight with a lunge movement.
If you only have one foot under the bar, you will have an uneven load on your pelvis, which will cause back strain.
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What To Do If You Feel Pain While Squatting On The Way Down
Lets start to break down when you start feeling your pain during the squat.
First, we are going to look at the pain you notice while lower down during the squat.
Whats going on here?
A lot of people, even those who have been exercising for a long time, demonstrate a poor ability to move through their hips.
Their squat is very knee-centric.
The issue here is that the glutes are not able to contribute as much as you need them to and it puts a ridiculous amount of stress on ankles, knees, and low back.
It will be very difficult to maintain proper spinal alignment without performing a proper hip hinge.
Most people also have poor ankle mobility. This means the ankle joint doesnt move like it is supposed to.
When you do not bend at the hips and ask tight ankles to move more than they can physically move, this invites the spine to join the party.
One thing that can happen is you will flex your spine in an attempt to help the motion and keep your balance. A lot of bending the spine under load has all the ingredients to make some spicy low back pain.
Remember back when I mentioned that a lot of people have poor ankle mobility? Those were good times.
If the ankles are tight, you may also find yourself getting too much weight on your toes and very little on your heels.
When the heels come off the ground, its very difficult to get your hips/glutes involved in the squat.
Rounding too far forward is no good. Trying to keep your back straight is also not good.
Try Different Squat Variations When You Have Back Pain
I like to order squat variations on a ladder of back stress, with the least stressful at the top and most stressful at the bottom.
Low Load Split Squats
Barbell High Bar Back Squats
Barbell Low Bar Back Squats
Your goal is to work through the progressions without making your back pain worse, the length of this process will vary from person to person.
But you can still have fantastic training sessions using the variations.Seriously, try doing split squats for 4 sets of 20 reps each leg, holding a 10-20kg dumbbell, and tell me you don’t have an absolutely disgusting quad pump!
Or try doing full range of motion goblet squats with 30kg, using a 3 second down, 2-second pause tempo. I’ve used these with athletes who squat 200kg plus, and 5 sets of 8-10 reps have had their legs shaking!
Think of your recovery as a long GPP phase. A huge base to build on ready for an even bigger peak after your recovery.
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How To Manage Back Pain From Squats
Will lower back pain go away on its own? If you have implemented these tips and still experience back pain, there may be underlying factors at play. Existing injuries or even misalignments you didnt know about could be causing pain and, without proper treatment, may worsen and lead to chronic conditions.
A physical therapist will be able to evaluate your form in addition to your spinal health and advise whether there is a problem. They may also consult chiropractors and orthopedic doctors to help make a diagnosis where applicable and create treatment plans that address any root causes of your pain.
At AICA Atlanta, we are primarily concerned with your spinal health and ability to keep moving freely, including exercises like squats. Contact us today to see a specialist and protect your spine.
Lower Back Pain From Squats: What You Can Do
Regular exercise is an important part of achieving good health and wellbeing. Implementing squats into your workout routine can have numerous benefits for your body, including faster weight loss, improved muscular strength, and stronger bones.
But what happens if squats cause lower back pain? Should you say “no” to these highly effective exercises? Digging deeper into the causes could help you prevent painful movements but still enjoy a healthy lifestyle.
Let’s take a closer look at how to fix lower back pain from squats.
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How To Eliminate A Sore Lower Back From Squats
A key movement to build a strong, muscular and more resilient body, squats are a commonly prescribed exercise for athletes and the fitness enthusiast.
Unfortunately, though, squats have been known to cause unwanted low back soreness, so if you’re wondering why your lower back is sore after squats, you’re not alone. While the squat will work the muscles of your lower back, if your low back becomes the most targeted region during the squat, chronic soreness and overuse injury can occur.
To prevent lower back pain after squats, and to continue to maximize the benefits you can experience with the squat, keep in mind the following key considerations.
Red Flags To Look Out For
Now, just to keep you safe, there are a few things to look out for, such as…
Blurred vision or loss of vision
Difficulty controlling bowel or bladder
Numbness or shooting pain down both legs
Changes in sensation around the genital region
So if any of those apply to you, get yourself in to see a doctor ASAP.
If they don’t apply to you – good news – keep on reading.
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What Causes Lower Back Pain After Squats
Lower back pain after squats usually results from repetitive lumbar flexion under load. Perfect squat form is rare. Increased weight and higher volume sets increase the likelihood of excessive lumbar flexion with each rep.
It does not take much lumbar flexion when load and volume are combined to lead to lower back pain, soreness, or discomfort.
The bottom position of the squat is almost always the point where excess lumbar flexion happens. A number of different impairments may be causing the excessive lumbar flexion.
- Poor form, simply being sloppy and allowing lumbar flexion in the hole
- Limited hip flexion ROM/mobility
How To Prevent Back Pain When Squatting
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The Many Benefits Of The Humble Squat
So, what kinds of benefits can someone really gain from something as simple and rudimentary as a squat? The first and most apparent benefit is gained in strength squats are a great start to the process of gaining strength in individuals who either have a low level of activity or a low tolerance for vigorous exercise.
Seniors, especially, can benefit significantly from adding squat exercises to their daily activity a 2005 study saw huge increases in dynamic balance, agility, and strength from a 10-week squat-focused fitness class for seniors.
But the benefits dont stop at strength increases. The necessary activation of the lateral knee and ankle, core, and back in performing a squat properly all create subtle benefits that can significantly improve an individuals balance, stability, strength, and even tendon elasticity. A 2013 study found that adding body squats to an exercise program significantly reduced knee valgus and improved ankle range of motion.
Plus, research has shown that the cardiovascular benefits of squatting can improve blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, and improve your overall quality of life.
Practice Safe Squatting To Prevent Injuries
Squatting is all about having good technique, and like anything that you try in life, it takes practice to make it perfect.
If you are new to squatting, you will want to start at an easy level until you are sure that you have good squatting technique.
According to VeryWellFit, Start off by using your own body weight instead of using free weights or barbells.
Using these weights could increase your risk of injury if you dont have a good squatting technique.
You can also practice doing half squats or mini squats until you are good enough to do full, weighted squats.
When you make it to doing weighted squats, start with a trainer or at least a spotting partner until you are comfortable doing the weighted squats on your own.
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Never Lean Forward When Squatting
You should make sure to place both feet under the bar, squat up, and then walk back. If youâre leaning forward, your hips will be driven up faster than your chest.
Your torso will be nearly horizontal to the floor and your legs almost straight. This movement will take your quads completely out of it and force your lower back to bear most of the weight.
Instead, when you squat, drive up your chest and hips at the exact same time. It is vital for the bar to stay over your mid-foot at all times.
Therefore, place the bar center of your back, and make sure to keep your chest and upper-back tight so it cannot move up. By doing this, you prevent being pulled forward by the weight.
Should I Squat When I Have Lower Back Pain
For many fitness junkies, squats are one of the most important parts of the strength training routine. They help strengthen your thighs, calves, glutes, hips, and back. The ability to do a good squat means being able to work muscles in the entire lower half of your body at once. But it stands to reason that squats which involve bending at the knees and pushing back up with a heavyweight across your shoulders have the potential to strain the back. If youre experiencing aching and discomfort in the lumbar spine, your instinct might be to skip the squats until youre feeling better. After all, you dont want to add additional pressure to the sore muscles. But is that really the right call? It turns out that when you ask fitness experts, physical therapists, and chiropractors alike, public opinion on the subject is fairly divided. One opinion: Squats can alleviate your lower back pain if you do them right. The other opinion: Its not worth the stupid risk of injury if you do something wrong.
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How To Do A Squat With Proper Form
Why Does My Lower Back Hurt After Squatting Or Deadlifting
Why does your lower back hurt after squats and deadlifts?
Note: Were discussing why people get a sore back after squats or deadlifts. One thing I should mention is if you already have a pre-existing back injury or have an undiagnosed back injury you should consult a medical provider before attempting squatting or deadlifting. Dont be a Dr.Google. Be safe out there.
For the sake of this article well focus on non-traumatic acute back pain, which is defined as pain lasting up to four weeks and is not a result of a trauma .
Its really difficult to do this with back pain because the majority of people with back pain have non-specific cause for the pain. Less than one percent of people with back pain actually have a serious medical condition .
The other thing is that most back pain improves within a few weeks regardless if its treated or not .
So now that weve discussed low back pain, lets review the potential diagnoses for a sore back or low back pain after squats or deadlifts. This list is not for those that already have a history of back pain and/or surgeries of the back.
Related Article: Make sure to read How To Get Big Legs Without Squats.
Dianoses for back pain while squatting and deadlifting
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How To Prevent Lower Back Pain While Squatting
To prevent lower back pain while performing squats exercise, try these tips:
Take A Few Days To Rest And Avoid Activities That Cause Your Back To Get Sore
Its hard to tell people that are used to being active to take a break but its totally necessary sometimes.
Im not saying you should lay in bed and not go about your regular day. On the contrary, I would want you to lay off the squatting and/or deadlifting for a few days to give your body a break.
One relatively unknown issue people experience by laying in bed or completely resting is something called kinesiophobia. Its basically fear of moving because you want to avoid pain. The last thing I would want is for you to experience this its better to continue your regular routine as much as possible, and with as little discomfort as possible while youre resting.
Some things you can do during the rest period to help are:
If an object is too heavy, ask for help
If youre lifting an object, bend at your knees, not at your waist
Tighten your stomach muscles as you lift or lower heavy objects
Try to lift heavy objects using your leg muscles
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Why You Feel Back Pain During Squats
The common reasons why you may feel lower back pain when squatting down are:
Just as with any exercise, proper technique is important. There shouldnt be any accompanying lower back pain when performing squats correctly. Any previous knee or hip injuries can also increase stress through the lower back. If youre not sure your technique is correct, you can have it checked by a health professional, such as a physical therapist or personal trainer.
Too much pressure
If you don’t exercise regularly and suddenly perform too many squats at once, this could tire the lower back. Especially if other muscles like the glutes or thighs arent strong enough yet, your lower back could be working too hard, leading to aches and pains.
Muscle injuries can occur when squatting, especially if you lift too much weight or have poor technique. The muscle can begin to overstretch and sometimes even tear in these situations.
Lower back injury
If you’ve previously injured your lower back, an old injury can reappear when squatting.
Muscles can also spasm or tighten if they cant handle the amount of weight from your squat. One way to prevent this is to warm up to get the muscles ready.
Insufficient hip mobility
Whether because of age or genetics, hip mobility can become a problem. Especially if you squat deep, the lower back can compensate for tight hip joints, causing pain or discomfort over time.