Arching of the Back? Squat Technique?

Could over arching of the back lead to back problems in the long run? Because ive been lifting for around 2 years and ive noticed in the mornings after a squat day, my back has a dull ache. Its now to the point were ive got this ache all the time but only when my body is in certain positions. Its not the lower back but more where the arch starts, half way up.

And also, when squatting, should you start with the arch before decending? I tend to kick my hips back into the arch and then at the top lock my hips forward out of the arch.

I read that certain people can have issues with back extension. But I don’t remember exactly what it said. I read it on an injury page in the book Strength Training Anatomy 2nd Edition. I can send a better response tonight when I’m home with the book if you want.

At my local gym, I usually see people “locking” their hips forward at the top of the ascent, but I’ve seen some powerlifters stop a bit shy, or at least, that’s how it appears…

Personally, I have a bit of hyperlordosis (excessive curvature in the lumbar spine) that I’ve been trying to work on. When I used to squat, I would injure myself if I tried to “arch hard” in the lower back. I’ve since learned to arch hard in the upper back, and I’ve been without back pain thus far (knock on wood). The other thing I’ve started doing is avoiding complete lock out with knees on ascent. I think that’s been causing me a lot of knee pain, and I’ve read in several places that one should avoid doing this. Anyway, the point to writing all of this was that once I stopped locking out my knees, I also stopped locking out my hips fully. You remain tight and powerful in this position, and it looks exactly like your stance before descent.

“Could over arching of the back lead to back problems in the long run”

YES. In the short run even. I had problems in my first year of lifting from this, that required stopping squats and rows for awhile and physical therapy. I think “arching hard” might be the correct cue for some people, but for those with natural arch (or anterior pelvic tilt), arching hard will exaggerate a bad position and stress the spine.

Neutral spine puts the least pressure on the spine. For powerlifting purposes, it might be advantageous to have some arch - but it is possible to overdo it.

Thanks for the replys guys.

Agreed. Overarching can hyperextend the back leading to undue stress on the facet joints. I had to go to an ART therapist and stop squatting for over a month, and I was lucky.

Correct, hyperextension of the spine could injure the facets. Over time, this may include facet arthrosis, and possibly facet hypertrophy. Facet hypertrophy can cause spinal stenosis and/or neuroforaminal narrowing.


From Book:

Should You Arch Your Back?

For people without vertebral problems, arching the back during exercise is not risky…

…People suffering from congenital spondylolysis, putting the lumbar spine in extention can cause the vertebra to slide…

…For people not fully grown or those experiencing osteoporosis, extending the lumbar spine may lead to spondylolysis because of fractures in the vertebral arch…

Maybe not fully relevant, but whatever.

Anyway of correcting it, or is it just a case of not arching so hard? Been fine for over a year its just now im feeling it in the middle back. Obviously the loads are alot more than they used to be a year a go!

Thanks for the replys

I’m not totally convinced that is why you are having pain. Without examining you or seeing you lift, certainly I cannot attribute cause or blame.


I’ve hyperextended my back on heavy push presses. Just a sprain that cleared up in a couple weeks. So yeah, it’s definitely possible.

[quote]beefcakemdphd wrote:
I’m not totally convinced that is why you are having pain. Without examining you or seeing you lift, certainly I cannot attribute cause or blame.


I would agree with this. Everyone is talking in theoretical terms since none of us has seen you lift. Overextension can cause pain, but in my experience very very few people ever have this problem.
The best answer is to post a video of you squatting so we can see what you are actually doing. In the meantime do all the standard things that are typically recommended (foam rolling the back, hips, IT band, quads,etc… and stretch the entire lower body on a regular basis).

Yea of course, without seeing form its hard to say.

Could a over tight belt cause a problem? People normaly say the belt should be slack and you should be tight against it, i used to have it tighter than that?

Having your belt too tight shouldn’t cause this problem. It might make the bottom of your ribs or top of your hips sore because it digs in a bit, but other than that the belt itself shouldn’t make anything sore.

How long has this pain been an issue? If you don’t squat does it go away?

I do not think an overly tight belt would cause this.


Id say from maybe the start of the year maybe a month before ive had it. Not sure if this could contribute but i finished a phase of 5/3/1 at the end of november, set a PB which was cool. But for the whole of december didnt deadlift, just squated. Now im back on 5/3/1 so will be back to deadlifting and squating.