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Squats and Lower Back Pain

Lately back squats seems to fatigue my lower back and even leave it with pain later on in the night. This annoys me because I use such shitty light weights as a result that my legs don’t even get a burn now. Oddly when I do deads I have no lower back issues.

I’m wondering if I should do seated squats for awhile since it only seems to tweak my back on the ass to floor portion of the squat mainly on the upward motion. At least that way I don’t go to low out of habit.

I asked a guy at my gym that is a competing powerlifter to see if my form was screwed up and he said he didn’t see anything wrong.

Any advice?

Are you bracing your abs hard while trying to fill your belly with air and holding your breath?

Ya I would also say it is your abs. I have bad abs and I really feel my lower back work when I do back squats.

Try doing squats with a belt. Its like night and day.

I have been having this same problem too. Ever since I have upped the reps. I also have brought my legs in so that may be something as well. I also don’t use a belt.

About 6 years ago I had a similar problem. I believe that my legs simply grew much stronger/faster than my spinal erectors and connective tissue in my lower back. I left squats alone for a while and focussed on bringing up my lower back using standard deadlifts as well as straight legged deadlifts.

Just be sure you start with weights that don’t aggrivate the problem as the idea is to strengthen not make the irritation progressively worse. Also refer to the article yesterday (Thursday) dealing with posture and alignment to be sure you’re lifting with a neutral spine.

Your form still might suck.

what other exercises are you doing that stress your lower back?

from my own experiences ive decided that 1 lower back fatiguing exercise is all i can take in a week.

i used to get really intolerable back pain, it hurt sitting, standing, on leg day i could sometimes not even do leg presses.

so at the moment im doing deadlifts and today was leg day so i just did my whole leg workout minus ext’s on the hammer strength leg press which is actually very accomadating to the lower back, it even curves with it versus other machines that stress it more.

a common mistake when doing back squats (particularly when going low) is having your back bend way down with the butt going way out as you go low. I have seen people doing low back squats who’s back go parallel to floor as they go down. You should look in the mirror when your doing squats to see if your back remains perpendicular to the floor ; if its going parallel-- you have turned the squat into a lower back exercise (which its not meant to be); check your form.

anybody have a video showing the improper squat (where back goes paralell) vs a proper squat where back remains upright; might help op.

Its not always that straightforward.
Someone with longer femurs WILL lean forward considerably more than someone with normal length or shorter femurs (relative to HIS lower leg obviously).

Of course, the OP could just be having trouble getting his glutes/hams to fire at the bottom. Glute activation exercises would help here.
He could also have a weak midsection…in which case he needs to train his abs heavy. Kneeling cable crunches and weighted hanging leg raises (or on the forearm support pads) going heavy will help imo.

OR he could just have long femurs, in which case he is gimped as far as heavy squat poundages are concerned. Do your heaviest sets with a belt and also train your lower back and posterior chain with good mornings and these will allow you to go heavier in the squat.

Hip belt squats are also a viable alternative.
and finally, Zane leg presses (with the feet in the calf raise position) and done with NO bounce whatsoever but with full ROM may be a good replacement for the full ROM QUAD loading at the knee joint you get with ATG squats but MAY be bad for your knees. I’d check with “bushidobadboy” on this one if you want to try this.

[quote]ds77 wrote:
a common mistake when doing back squats (particularly when going low) is having your back bend way down with the butt going way out as you go low. I have seen people doing low back squats who’s back go parallel to floor as they go down. You should look in the mirror when your doing squats to see if your back remains perpendicular to the floor ; if its going parallel-- you have turned the squat into a lower back exercise (which its not meant to be); check your form.

anybody have a video showing the improper squat (where back goes paralell) vs a proper squat where back remains upright; might help op.[/quote]

To learn to squat properly, some of the best advice I’ve heard is to shelf heavy back squatting for awhile.

Keep your groove with something like 3 sets of 3-5 reps once or twice a week, don’t use very challenging weight. Pour yourself into heavy front squatting and good mornings and learn to trap air in your core and keep every part of your body as tight as possible.

The front squats will teach you to keep your midsection tight and to pull yourself into the hole with your hip flexors. The good mornings will teach you how to use your hips and recover if you get pitched forward, as you inevitably will with big weight.

Before you shrug off this advice, know that Brad Gillingham, one of the greatest lifters in IPF history, shifts his focus from back squatting to front squatting in his offseason. He’ll back squat once a week in the olympic style for low volume, but he’ll do grueling front squat workouts 3x/week.

[quote]Ramo wrote:
Pour yourself into heavy front squatting and good mornings and learn to trap air in your core and keep every part of your body as tight as possible.

The front squats will teach you to keep your midsection tight and to pull yourself into the hole with your hip flexors. The good mornings will teach you how to use your hips and recover if you get pitched forward, as you inevitably will with big weight.
[/quote]

I was just going to suggest Front Squats. They worked wonders for me and I still alternate between the 2 every 4-6 weeks. Interesting about the good mornings. It’s quite awhile since I’ve used them in a routine.

Nick

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[quote]bushidobadboy wrote:
You may have a slightly herniated disc which is aggravated by squatting and presses on local pain-generating structures, such as the posterior longitudinal ligament.

BBB[/quote]

Could someone know if they have a slightly herniated disc just from “feeling” or would they need an xray? I did rack pulls Wednesday and my back rounded on the last rep. My lower back has been feeling “off” Its not sore (as the muscle usually is) nor is it particularly painful, but it’s certainly noticable. Thoughts?

Sorry for the hijack, OP.

[quote]Trenchant wrote:
bushidobadboy wrote:
You may have a slightly herniated disc which is aggravated by squatting and presses on local pain-generating structures, such as the posterior longitudinal ligament.

BBB

Could someone know if they have a slightly herniated disc just from “feeling” or would they need an xray? I did rack pulls Wednesday and my back rounded on the last rep. My lower back has been feeling “off” Its not sore (as the muscle usually is) nor is it particularly painful, but it’s certainly noticable. Thoughts?

Sorry for the hijack, OP. [/quote]

You wouldn’t see a herniated disc on an X-ray. MRI definitely. There are a few tests that can be done (by chiropractor, sports med, massage therapist or physical therapist, etc) that may elicit a positive response indicating a disc issue.

It could be so many different things (ilio-lumbar ligament sprain, SI joint sprain/strain, herniated disc, pulled msucle, etc) its hard for anyone to tell you online. Get in and get checked.

Dr C

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Thanks guys. Will do.

OP I have this same problem and switching to box squats worked wonders for me. Doing traditional squats I end up leaning forward because I don’t want to be un balanced and land on my ass when I go down. Once I put a box there, I know I won’t bust my ass because I’m about to sit on something. So my torso says more upright and instead of my lower back hurting, I feel it so much more in my legs. Has helped me tremendously, just my thoughts.