T Nation

Squatting and Intense Pain in Sides


Hi all,
A while back I made the decision to drop the back squat from my rotation of lifts in favor of the front squat due to the fact that I was developing some serious bone spurs on my shoulder blades from the bar rubbing against the skin/bone there. Fast forward about 18 months and I start training at a gym with a safety squat bar. The kind that forces the weight to stay high on your back. So I switched back to "back" squatting.

Turns out the weight sits significantly farther forward than a back squat with a regular bar. I got used to doing that and decided to move back to regular back squats while still training with the safety bar for higher rep work. No surprise here, my strength in the movement had vanished, but I was determined to rebuild it.

During one of my sessions with the safety bar, I was racking the weight and just slightly rounded my lower back. I was almost instantly crippled with pain and had to lay on the floor for several minutes before I could move. Crazy part is that it wasn't even my lower back that hurt. It was all of the muscles on my sides that attach to my pelvis, and my hip flexors.

I was bed-ridden for a couple of days before I could go back to work. Took about 6 weeks off from lifting and returned with very light weights to test the waters. After a two months or so I could start lifting heavy again on everything but the squat. I tried again tonight and I damn near crippled myself with a single at what was supposed to be my first warm-up set.

Intense pain as soon as I reversed direction out of the hole. My lower back is stiff, but fine and my hip flexors and obliques are f'in on fire. Can hardly move again.

Anyone out there have any idea what's going on and how I can correct the issue? I'd really rather not give up on squatting if I don't have to.

FRAT version:

Hurt myself squatting, please help.

For your troubles, a woman with nice legs.


Turns out there’s an ART practitioner literally across the street from my place. I’ll talk to him and check back in.


try 3rd world squatting. You know what i mean? Google it.
Can you simply stand with your feet shoulder width or so,
toes pointed whatever feels natural to you, break with your knees and sit your ass straight down between your heels.
Keeping your heels flat on the floor.

You know, like most of asia does to take a wiz everyday.
Thats about a billion people give or take.
Or like any 12-month old does anywhere in the world, when he or she wants to pick something up off the ground.
If ya can’t do that ya got problems. real serious problems.
If you can, do that a lot everyday, sit down between your heels and relax and get use to. Like during commercials, or in an elevator or while cooking etc. etc.
Then graduate to goblet squats (google that).
Then front squats, then back.
And please just leave the safety bar crap, the squat bar pad, or the cross-arm front squat crap alone. Thats like giving an alcoholic “light beer”.
Like thats gonna help.
If you were born in Vietnam or China you’d be full squatting everyday and not giving it a second thought.
Its not a big deal.
my youngest is a pretty good painter, and i’m extremely jealous, i can’t draw for shit.



Based on the number of views to this thread I will assume that there was some interest in the topic. Went and saw a few different doctors and got a diagnosis. Inflammation of the IS joint caused by abnormally tight hip flexors and piriformis muscles. This was/is causing abnormal movement patterns when I try to come out of the hole in a squat and putting intense pressure on the muscles in my sides resulting in pain and even more muscle tightness. Prescribed lots of stretching and myofascial release stuff to loosen up the psoas and piriformis on both sides and exercises to strengthen the obliques.

After it was pointed out to me, I found myself very aware that my hips were moving off to one side first when I tried to ascend from a squat. Working on fixing it. If there’s any interest I’ll update in a while describing what I’ve done to correct the problem and how it has progressed.


I honestly was hoping that was you in the picture. Or that you would post more pictures of her. Damn she’s hot. Sounds like you’ve got it figured out. I’ll check back on your progress.


The work on my psoas and piriformis seems to be going well. I’ve noticed improvements in my posture and significant lessening of pain. Still not back to squatting or deathlifting though. Using a plate-loaded squat machine to work on the problem with the movement in my hips. It seems to be getting more normal, but its something I have to really concentrate on to make it happen. If I don’t pay attention to it, it goes back to the old f’ed up movement pattern. Still much work to be done.


Revisiting this almost two years into this. Every couple of months, something would tweak this and I’d be out of commission again for a few weeks.

Went to a lot of incompetent doctors about this. Almost all of them told me to stretch my hips and do some planks. After months and months of this, I had very flexible hips, tighter abs, and still had loads of pain in my hips, QL’s, and sides.

Finally went to a guy who wasn’t crazy. MRI confirmed his diagnosis of herniated discs at T12 and L1. Now seeing a therapist to help put everything back together. Feeling better. Probably won’t be squatting any time soon, if ever again.

I bumped this because I see lots of guys describing the exact symptoms I had and lots of bad advice in return. If you have the symptoms above, you probably herniated a disc. Go to a doctor and get it sorted out.