Maintain Good Form To Prevent Lower Back Injury
The best way to fix lower back pain is to not get it in the first place. It might sound like a bit of a smart ass remark but it is true. However, as mentioned, we have all hurt our backs before so even we need to hear that advice. But honestly, if we can pinpoint what goes wrong when we squat that causes pain, we can just stop doing that. Theoretically, if you were to always squat with proper form and use appropriate loads and rest, you would never get hurt.
Thats why the most important factor to prevent hurting your lower back when squatting is to use good form. In fact, this is why it has its own section as below, well discuss other variables to be aware of to prevent back pain. Still, most of them are on the list as they can affect your form. That being said, here are the key points to be aware of.
Dont Let The Weight Bring You Forward
As mentioned above, you always want to maintain the weight over your lower legs. In other words, as you come down, the only movement you should see from your shoulders is them going down. There should be no back or forth motion.
Dont Round Your Back
Rounding your back is another major cause. When the back is straight, all of the vertebrae are aligned and work together to maintain a stiff torso. In reality, there should be no movement in the back as it should remain straight with an isometric contraction. It goes up because the hips come forward and push the back up.
Dont Hyperextend Your Back
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How To Avoid Lower Back Pain From Squats
If you are performing squats correctly, you shouldn’t experience any lingering or sharp pain in the lower back. If the pain occurs, you may need to rethink your approach to this exercise. Here are a few ways to avoid lower back pain from squats.
Warm-up before the workout
Warming up before a workout helps you stay healthy and avoid injuries. If your muscles are cold, they might not work as effectively, which can cause stress on the lower back.
The warmup helps the heart pump more blood to the muscles you are working on. As your muscles get more blood and oxygen, they can contract and relax more easily. Research shows that an adequate warm-up improves workout performance by 79%.
Choose the right squat variation
Not all squats are created equal. Some are great for beginners, while others should be left to experienced lifters. Try starting with classic bodyweight squats instead of going straight to heavy barbell front or back squats. Once you decide to progress, monitor how your lower back is coping. Never push your body to extreme discomfort. Even strong athletes need recovery and light workout sessions to prevent injuries.
Strengthen your lower back muscles
If your lower back muscles are strong, you can avoid back pain even if your squatting technique isn’t perfect. Examples of exercises that help you strengthen these muscles include:
Rethink your workout
Stretch after exercising
Reason #: Youre Only Going Through The Motions
For some people, a lack of strength isnt the issue, but rather theyre not practiced at activating the right muscles.
The mind-body connection of exercise, or the practice of thinking about the muscles that need to be engaged, isnt always automatic. In fact, Endres says many of her clients are confused when she mentions it.
Awareness is the problem for about half of my clients, she says. If I can get them aware of the correct muscles, then they say, Oh! Now I see what you mean.
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Try Different Squat Variations
The back squat is the classic squat variation, but is also the most difficult variation to master. Because of the position of the bar being on your back, it places more direct stress on the back than other variations. Venture beyond the back squat and use different variations to prevent low back soreness.
How Does Squatting Affect The Back Muscles
When performing a squat, everything from your upper back muscles down to the muscles in your feet is engaged.
As you lower into the squat, your hamstring muscles stretch at the hip joints and your upper back muscles engage to help you keep the form.
If you extend your torso forward too much, this transfers the force, putting a lot of strain on the lower back which can lead to injury.
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How Do I Stop My Lower Back From Hurting When I Squat
Strengthening your lower back muscles will reduce lower back pain after squats by making it easier to support the weight and maintain good form. If you are experiencing lower back fatigue after an intense set of squats, you should stop and allow your lower back a break before continuing with more exercise.
Best Squat Variation For Lower Back Pain
The best squat variation that doesnt stress the lower back is the front squat. With front squats, you need to activate abdominal muscles to maintain an upright torso.
Lifting the heels by about 5cm when squatting will reduce the press on the lower back even more. It will also increase the activation of m.quadriceps.
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Exercises That Help Relieve Back Pain
The sedentary way of life, long hours at work can cause tension that may bring all of us irritating back pain and cramps. With these basic exercises, you can prevent back pain, and these workouts can be done pre or post-exercise.
Knee to Chest
The knee to chest back pain exercise is an easy method for back pain relief that doesnt require any special equipment.
How to Perform the Knee to Chest
- Lie on the ground and try to support the majority of the body on it
- Flex the legs and support your toes
- Stretch your right leg and maintain this position for about 30 seconds
- Pull the knee towards the chest
- Repeat workout
To do knee-to-chest stretches the right way, watch this YouTube video.
A back stretch is an essential movement that helps reduce back pain by loosening, stretching, and lengthening the back muscles. There are many back stretches, each targeting different areas of the back for better back pain treatment.
How to Perform a Simple Back Stretch:
- Stand on your feet.
For more back stretches, click watch this video.
A deep squat is a compound exercise that helps to improve flexibility and range of motion in the hips, knees, and ankles. This exercise is beneficial for people with back pain because it strengthens the muscles around the spine, which can help to support and protect it.
How to Perform a Deep Squat:
Watch video: performing deep squats.
How to Perform Leg Raises:
- Lay on your back.
Watch how to do this exercise here.
You Already Have A Back Injury But Dont Pay Heed To It
When we develop a lower back injury, we should immediately stop doing any form of workout that could be detrimental to the healing, including squats. You can still do squats to keep your spine stable, and in case, you feel pain-free while doing them. Lower back discomfort may occur if your injury impairs spinal stabilization. In this scenario, its best to avoid squats until youve healed thoroughly.
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Reducing Back Pain When You Do Squats
Improving the mobility of your hips and strengthening your core will, over time, lower your risk of back pain when you squat. In the meantime, lighten up on the weights so you can focus on form rather than handling a heavy resistance. Also, switch to front squats if youre experiencing lower back pain when you squat. When you do a front squat, youre forced to hold your spine in a more upright position, which is safer. Another option that places less stress on your back and spine are goblet squats, squatting while holding a dumbbell in front of your body.
Also, be sure youre doing a thorough warm-up before attempting squats. Start with body weight squats and gradually increase the resistance as your body becomes warmer. If you have lower back pain, limit the depth of your squats. You dont have to do a deep squat to get benefits. So, dont lower yourself to a depth that causes even a twinge of pain. Listen to your body and stop if you feel discomfort.
Common Causes Of Squatting Pain
The squat is a very good compound exercise, but it can wreak havoc on your lower back. The lumbar spine is vulnerable to injury, especially if you have weak posterior chain muscles. The most common causes of lower back pain after squatting are
- Lack of core stability and abdominal strength Lack of glute strength
- Tightness Improper lifting technique
- Poor squatting technique: You may not be doing squats correctly which may cause pain in your knees or hips. If you have poor mobility and flexibility in your hip joints then squatting could cause pain even if you are doing it with the correct technique.
- Overreaching by attempting too many reps or too much weight
- Wearing running shoes with high arches on a leg workout day. Running shoes have no support for the arch and will cause pain in the feet after heavy squats.
- Legs Are Too Short The further you are from the ground while you squat down, more pressure will be put on your knees resulting in pain.
- Squatting too often Before doing squats, warm up properly by walking or running for about ten minutes.
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How Can Squats Help My Back Pain If I Have A Spotter Watching My Form
In some physical therapy regimens, squats are actually recommended as a full-body strengthening exercise for people who have sustained a lumbar spine injury. If youve mostly recovered from the injury but still feel a dull aching, squats may be able to help you retrain and heal your muscles. Squats can be an important part of a physical therapy and fitness regimen after you hurt your lumbar spine in these circumstances:
- Youve recovered from the injury and gone through stabilizing physical therapy exercises
- Youre ready to build up strength again after a long recovery time
- You dont have any ongoing issues with joint slippage, hyperflexibility, or sudden weakness in the lower body
- You have a professional coaching and watching you to make sure you dont injure yourself again
- You feel mentally present enough not to accidentally slip your spine out of alignment
- Your pain levels do not interfere with walking and general motor function
For those doing general fitness training, ask your trainer for advice about whether its a good idea. For those in physical therapy, ask your physical therapist.If youre doing a barbell squat by holding a barbell across your shoulders, these are the steps you should follow:
Any misstep in any of those steps can cause back pain, so you have to remember what muscles and joints are working at all times. If you want to get your lower back pain evaluated and double check your squat form, you can schedule a consultation at today.
Will Improving My Core Stability Help
There are several benefits to improving core stability when squatting, including reduced hip pain. By engaging the core muscles, you can take some of the pressure off of the hips and redistribute it throughout the body. This not only reduces pain in the hips, but it also improves balance and stability. In addition, better core stability can help to improve your squatting technique and prevent injuries. So if you’re looking to reduce hip pain and improve your squatting form, focusing on core stability is a great place to start.
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How Deadlifting Should Feel
Ill put it plainly: when you are deadlifting, your lower back shouldnt feel sore. It should feel completely fine that is, you shouldnt really be feeling it at all.
At most, it may have a slight post-workout tightness not anything more than that, and certainly not pain.
If you are experiencing lower back pain, I would advise checking out my article that goes over the most common deadlift mistakes.
Pay particular attention to the points about rounding your lower back and pushing vs pulling .
Also, take a look at the follow diagram.
Image Credit: Bony To Beastly
If you look like the guy on the left when deadlifting, you are going to get lower back pain at some point and if you continue lifting like that, you will almost certainly experience some of the extremely painful episodes that I needlessly endured for years.
On the other hand, if you deadlift like the guy on the right and really pay attention to keeping your back straight throughout the exercise your lower back should be pain free.
In fact, my partner Justin Fauci, a paragon of good deadlifting form, has never hurt his back on this exercise. Not once. Over more than a decade.
So, to sum it all up, please dont let the fear of back pain scare you away from deadlifting. Practice proper form, and you should be absolutely fine.
Preventing Back Pain When Squatting
If you notice back pain during squats, there are some simple things you can do to troubleshoot and prevent this from happening in the future.
Squat variations: Its critical to choose the correct squat variation for you. If youre new to the practice, goblet or front squats may be easier to learn, while barbell back squats are more advanced and more likely to cause injury.
Starting position: When beginning a squat, your feet should always be facing forward to protect your hips and knees. If your feet are at an angle, it can impact your form and lead to back pain or even arches collapsing.
Spinal alignment: Maintaining a straight-ahead or upward gaze during squatting can prevent you from leaning forward and placing stress on the spine. Only squat as far as you can while feeling in control and maintaining this form. Squatting too deeply can be detrimental, and form is more important than depth.
Joint mobility: Ankle mobility is key to the balance and control necessary for a squat. If the ankle is compromised, your feet could lift off the floor, forcing you to compensate in other areas, leading to strain and injuries. Only squat as far as you can skillfully, and work on ankle flexibility outside of the squat.
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How Often Can The Lower Back Get Tired
The lower back is a muscle group that can become fatigued relatively quickly, especially if you regularly do squats and deadlifts. As with any other muscle group, you should allow your lower back time to rest and recover in between workouts. If you are experiencing lower back pain after squats, it may signify that you are overtraining this area and need to take a break for a while.
Why Does Squatting Hurt My Back
There are 4 main reasons why you hurt your back squatting, and I’ve ranked them in order of likelihood.
1) Your programming is wrong
Specifically, your training load increased too aggressively, and your body wasn’t ready for it. That might mean you increased the intensity too quickly, or it might mean you increased the volume too quickly.
9 times out of 10, this is the cause of back pain from squats, which is great because you can prevent back pain by following more intelligent programming.
2) Your technique is off
Everyone likes to think their squat technique is perfect. Very few people’s squat technique actually is.
Sometimes this is due to things like mobility restrictions in your hips and ankles forcing you into poor positions So it’s worth googling ankle and hip mobility tests.
Other times it’s just a lack of body awareness or technical understanding, which requires you to practice flawless movement with lighter weights, recording your form on camera regularly.
If your programming is good, then this is your most likely cause.
3) Weakness of the core or other surrounding muscles
This one is weirdly contentious in the strength world, and there are plenty of purists who say that there’s no need for core work, glute work or any of that stuff.But there is plenty of research showing that improved endurance in the core musculature, the glutes and the back extensors significantly reduces the likelihood of back pain.
4) Injury prone genetics
What Muscles Do Squats Work
Squats are one of the most effective exercises you can do to strengthen your lower body and improve your overall fitness.
The primary muscles targeted by squats are your quadriceps , your glutes , your adductor Magnus , and your hamstrings .
When you do squats, youll feel it mostly in these areas. Through these muscles, squats also improve balance and coordination, while building the bones and connective tissue in your legs.
Why Squats Are Beneficial
There are many benefits from squats but the overall most desirable are the following:
- Stronger Joints: Squats engage many different muscles throughout your body when performed properly including your hips, core, ankles, hamstrings and knees.
- Increased Core Strength: Your core is the center of your body and if it is not strong enough, you will probably have difficulty keeping your spine in alignment and your body in the correct positions when trying to exercise.
- Building Your Leg Muscles: Squats not only help with improving your core but also your legs and glutes.
- Burning Calories: While cardio queens may not consider squats a solid fat burner, working many large muscle groups at the same time can burn calories and stimulate your metabolism
- Easy to do, many variations, and can be performed anywhere: Another reason, squats are such an ideal exercise is that you dont need any special equipment and you can do them almost anywhere.
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