T Nation

Low back rounding and squatting

Hey all:

I’ve got a problem that I’ve been dealing with for years, and I’m hoping that someone can offer some helpful advice. No matter how flexible I get (in the seated toe touch I can lay my torso flat on my legs) or how much I practice my form, I can’t seem to keep my low back from rounding as I break parallel in the squat. Since flexion+compression = bad for the back, every time I start progressing in my squat weights I get injured once I get to a certain point (usually anything beyone 225lbs., and the injury always occurs around S5). It’s really frustrating.

I’ve noticed that even when just sitting and leaning forward I get a very pronounced curve in my lower back. Is it possible that this is just a crappy genetic anatomical thing (is lumbar kyphosis even possible? I thought it only occurred thoracically), or is there something that I can do to help correct the problem? I really want to keep doing full ROM squats, and I’d hate to have to cut them back to parallel because of my stupid lower back. Thanks a bunch,

Two yoga poses might help: pigeon and downward facing dog. I’m not making these up-my theory is that you might be restricted at the glute/ham tie in area.

I’m betting your hamstrings (and possibly the back muscles too) are simply not flexible enough. Check out Ian’s article on stretching and Staley’s article on warming up.

If you say you’re stretching and doing all the right things then you might just have a bad build for squatting. Short calves, long femurs, and long torso?? One thing you can do is try to get your stance a little wider.
Another thing you can try that will help you probably more then anything else are low box squats Louie Simmons style. Take a wider then shoulder width stance and set a box 1 inch below paralell just under your butt…come down slowly and sit gently down on the box, now taking about 30% of the load off of your feet transfer it to your butt by rolling back until your torso is perpendicular to the ground. Now from that point try to rise up out of your squat in a perfectly straight line. The best way to do this is to concentrate on pushing OUT to the sides with your feet instead of pushing UP from your knees. You’ll know when you’re doing it right when you spring up without any forward lean whatsoever…also you will feel this in the hip flexors. You’ll know when you do it wrong if you get someone to check your knees, if they move in at all when you begin to rise then your form is wrong. Start very light until you get the hang of it. This is a very good way of teaching someone to squat correctly.

Watch Ian King’s video - killer leg exercises. Before watching this video I was alway trying to go deep with the squat. Ian teaches a technique were the importance is on a flat back aided by a proper hip position. Controlling the hip position is a function of ab/glute control. This will dictate how low to go. Going too low will force the lower back to roung. If you practice this technique your range will gradually increase without rounging the back. I too had lower back problems. Since I incorporated Ian King’s technique in the squat & dead lift I can now perform these exercises. The only pain is experience is muscle pain not back/spine/joint pain.

I had a similar problem. Mine was that when I got to the bottom of a squat I would fall forward. My erectors are very strong(800 rack pulls from mid knee). So what was the problem, my setup. Keep your head up and a proud cheat. Simply looks up to the ceiling tilting your head back as much as you can and stick that chest out like a big old cock, I mean rooster. Your body may be compensating by rounding out the back. start tight, tall and strong. Good luck

Get to a chiropractor who can adjust you well regularly and you will do much better. Lumbar Kyphosis? Highly unlikely

I believe you may be lacking flexibility in Gluteals, origin of Hamstrings and Hip Flexors. To increase flexibility in upper hamstrings, sit on ground w/ feet together and straight out in front of torso. This is the important note - maintain pelic and low back alignment. This is achieved using a co-contraction of the “lower abdominals” (transversus abdominis/ internal oblique contraction w/ restus contraction) and gluteals. Lean forward maintaining spinal alignment. This teaches the hamstrings to lengthen with no low back arch and a greater degree of pelvic rotation.
Secondly, increase gluteal flexibility by lying supine w/ knees bent and one leg crossed over the other. The arm of the crossed leg follows through the hole created between both legs, grabbing onto bent legs hamstring. The free hand takes hold of bent knee. Pull the bent leg close to your body. This puts the crossed leg in a position of internal rotation thus causing stretch in the gluteal.

I also believe high tonus and inflexibility of illio-psoas musculature may cause “muscle bunching” or joint/nerve compression. This translates into inablity in bringing chest to knees with low back and pelvic alignment. This may contribute to lumbar kyphosis in deep range of squat. An explanation of a multi-joint, illio-psoas stretch can be given on request.

Chris Woronchanka

Hey, don’t squat they’re dangerous. Besides squats aren’t as effective for shaping and toning the legs as leg extensions. Drop the squats, they’re for roid heads, and do a natural man’s exercise like the leg ext.

MR. Natural you have to be kidding?!?! First there is no such thing as shaping a muscle, you can make it bigger or smaller, but you cannot change the shape of it, That is determined by your genetic make up which cannot be changed. Second you cannot be a bodybuilder/power lifter b/c everyone here knows that squats, dead lift etc. are the only way to build big powerful quads. I think you should find new boards to post at b/c you obviously aren’t a real T-man!

Mr. Natural is just funnin’ with us, I’m sure. Unless he thinks he’s on the Muscle and Fitness board!