T Nation

Lower Back Turning to Side While Squatting


#1

Hey there, I got this problem, but don't know how to solve. I know how to squat properly, from the side the form looks good, back isn't rounding, when I reach the hole, back is straight also, everything's ok, but whenever I'm going up, my lower back goes to the right side. This thing happens just outside the hole, after that bending, I can go up properly. I don't feel no lower back pain or anything, but I noticed that my bar speed is pretty slow even with lower weights...
An answer to this question would be a great help.


#2

Do you mean that your pelvis shifts to one side?


#3

Yeah, you can say that, it slightly shifts to the right side at the moment I'm going up from the hole, but after that moment I'm able to squat up correctly. This shifting happens only when I'm exploding back up.


#4

I have this problem and have traced it to a hip flexor that isn't firing fully so I favor one side over the other coming out of the hole.

After some AK and soft tissue work by an AIRROSTI practitioner to get things firing again, my squat straightened out. I try to stay on top of my hip flexors with lacrosse ball fascial work. Seems to help


#5

I had a similar problem, shifting the weight to my right side in the bottom of the squat. I don't know if it was first caused by weak glutes, or tight hip flexors, or weak abs, but after awhile, I had all these problems. The more I squatted with poor technique, the worse things got. I tried all kinds of things, buts whats working now are

Clam Shells x10
Glute Bridges x10
Seated Psoas Hold x10 sec

Stretching and rolling hip flexors and glutes

repeated as often as possible throughout the day, and before workouts. As far as I can tell, this stretches everything in the front of my hips and gets my glutes working properly to really externally rotate my legs in the bottom of the squat.


#6

Do you experience any kind of valgus knee collapse? Could be so many things, id dial up your mobility and consider seeing an active release technique doctor


#7

Like others have said happened to me too. I had a significant hamstring tear and after it fully healed (few years later) I would shift to the right coming out of the hole. I chalked it up to weak hamstring/glute. I've made an effort to do lunges, Bulgarian split squats, etc and it hasn't been a problem.


#8

hey, thanks for the response, I was thinkin that it could be due to some muscle imbalance. I got some footage of me squatting from the gym today, so it could get clearer what the problem may be.


#9

Whoa! I think you should drop the squat for awhile, until you get a handle on this. At worst, you may injure yourself, and at the very least you will continue to make you imbalance worse.

Try some lunges, single leg hamstring curls and single leg extension, single leg calf raises, ect. If one side can't maintain position, or one leg is stronger than the other, work on it until your legs are "even."

Do something in your warm up to fire up your glutes.


#10

I'm doing Agile 8 for my warm ups and I'm pretty happy with it. Ummm, so in my case, Should I be doing only single legged exercises only for my right leg? Because it seems that is the right side that is causing imbalance.


#11

Your shoulders and elbows are very uneven as well, which might be causing you to drive up and forward with the right side, causing your trunk to twist. It could also be a hip mobility issue or significant strength imbalance as noted by others above. It could also be a combinations of all three of these things. It's hard to say and I doubt you'll get a definitive answer from anyone other than a trained professional who's able to put you through a number of assessments to see where your movement faults stem from.

For now, I'd definitely drop the back squats (do front squats or goblet squats cause a similar problem?) and work on your general mobility while seeking out the help of a professional. If you want to try to troubleshoot it yourself, I'd look into the work of Mike Robertson, particularly a (purchasable) video series that he and Eric Cressey released called "assess and correct." The work of Gray Cook might be useful to you as well.


#12

That is a muscle imbalance or mobility issue, but more likely, both. Do not keep adding weight to the bar until you get it fixed. I learned this the hard way with a pretty bad back injury that kept me from squatting for about four months.


#13

No, do all the single leg exercises you can think of for both legs. It's not just that 1 side is weak, the problem is neither side works the same as the other. You probably have a weaker or less active right glute, but a stronger right adductor and quad. On the left side the glute is stronger, so that knee rotates out farther. Because your sides don't move together, your hips are shifting.

You just have to work the single leg stuff until your symmetrical again.


#14

Earlier this year I had a similar problem but not quite as bad. I switched to Oly shoes at the beginning of the year and wasn't aware that I stopped bracing my core as hard. A few months into the year I noticed that my torso would twist during the concentric portion of the lift. I also felt a lot of soreness in my right spinal erector and barely any on the left side after heavy squat sessions. The problem was that I wasn't engaging my lats and abs properly.

Over the past few months I have done a ton of beltless work with front squats, high bar squats, RDLs, stiff-legged DLs, etc., using weights light enough to focus on maximum tightness in the torso, and the problem has gone away. My glutes now feel like they're being used to a higher degree as well.

Edit: In addition to the twist, one elbow was always higher than the other and that was because my lats weren't engaged to pull them down.


#15

Definitely an imbalance in strength and flexibility on each side, it's just the way things happen unless you are amazingly ambidextrous and distribute the workload of every motion you make your entire life evenly on both sides, or you have one leg shorter than the other.

Being consistent with mobility work and extra dominant/nondominant side accessory work (Lunges/reverse lunges/bulgarian split squats/single leg squats, one handed farmer's walks(abs lower back,) etc.) will help. It's really something you are going to have to stay on top of.

On off days you should be doing singe sided accessory work, start with the weaker side and whatever reps you get match with the stronger side even if you could do more, just match the weaker side reps. You can even add them as an extra workout, for instance you could do them in the evening if you work out in the morning and vice versa, as long as it's not hurting your recovery from main workouts, get them in whenever you can even if it's just 5-10 min.

Stretching and mobility work you will also have to stay on top of on a regular basis. Few times a day if possible. Honestly the more you can squeeze in stretching and extra work, the faster it will go away. I also don't see any reason to stop squatting as long as you aren't getting pain, but I would keep things sub maximal ( no ME or rep grinders at least) and really try to feel out how you are dropping into and coming out of the hole, taping each workout to monitor how the imbalance is progressing.

Playing with stance width and foot angle may also help short term.


#16

To everyone above who recommends that he continues squatting: pause the video at 20 seconds and look at his hips and lower back. Call me overcautious, but I see absolutely zero benefit and a lot of potential harm from loading the spine in that position.


#17

A few good points made above!

Like Lift206 said, as this problem developed I wasn't aware that I wasn't flexing my core as hard. I didn't know I wasn't engaged my lats hard to keep my elbows and shoulders even. At some point, there is just so much to worry about; squeeze bar, drive neck into bar, shoulders together and down, back flat, chest high, elbows pulled down then forward, belly out, glutes tight, butt back, knees out, spread the floor, fleet parallel. And all of that before you even begin to move during I squat. Somehow, over time, I just "forgot" how to get tight everywhere. By doing a ton of other exercises, it's like I'm "remembering" how to use my muscles. Pulldowns, stiff leg deadlifts, rdl's to get that posterior chain strong.

BacktotheBar mentions 1 hand farmer's walks. They seem like they would work great. Also, maybe some work from the half kneeling position?
http://www.T-Nation.com/training/21st-century-core-training
http://www.T-Nation.com/training/13-exercises-thatll-floor-you

The more you learn, and the more you work on this, the faster it will go away.

And again, like Trevor said, back squatting right now may be dangerous.


#18

Thanks all for the responses. What I'm going to be doing, is trying to fix my squat form from ground up. Also, I'm thinking I'll do single leg exercises for every part of leg muscle 3x8, core work and just try to get back to improve my squatting weights as soon as possible. Really glad that I found out about this problem as if it wasn't for my gym, I would be probably sitting with a back injury, as I haven't felt any pain/notification in my lower back or back in general. Appreciate the help once again.


#19

I've been teaching a person how to squat and besides doing the main movement to practice the lift, one of the best things I had him do was perform movements that target a specific muscle group at a time to build the mind-muscle connection. Once he had developed that connection and could contract each muscle group at will, he was finally able to create tension in all muscle groups together. I started off having him do flies for pecs, rows for lats, and planks for abs/obliques. After that, paused front squats and stiff-legged deadlifts for full torso tightness.


#20

A little update. Been doing single legged exercises + core exercises for 3 weeks now. Tried to work on my tightness with squat and tried to squat reasonably low weight, but still had the pelvic movement. Later, tried a low bar squatting variation and at times, I could do the squat movement without my pelvis turning to side. Don't know if this is a fix, as I haven't tried it doing with bigger weights, but maybe it's a start as single legged exercises helped, but not that much to fix this problem. My question would be: should I still be doing single legged exercises or should I try to rebuild my squat from bottom to up with low bar?