Exercise Problems 101: Lower Back Pain From Squats

Updated on September 12, 2017
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Trained in dentistry, Sree is currently studying lab sciences. She enjoys researching various health topics and writing about her findings.

If there's one thing that fitness buffs and health enthusiasts agree on, it is the importance of having an exercise regimen. More often than not, these exercises would have squats incorporated in them. However, almost everyone who does squats will tell you that they experienced lower back pain from squats. It is like a given thing for squats. Why is this so? What can you do to prevent this?


Top 5 Reasons for Lower Back Pain From Squats

1. The Bar May Be Too High

Remember that when you are squatting high bar, your position must not be similar to how you sit when doing a squatting low bar. When you do, you will surely get lower back pain. This is because the barbell is now way too far from your center of gravity.

  • You can prevent this by squatting high bar while keeping an upright torso or by putting the bar lower and sitting back. If you are a beginner with squats, it is highly suggested that you squat low bar to achieve better leverage. In time, you'll be able to gain more muscle because you can lift more weight.

2. You May Be Squatting Too Deep

Keep in mind that you can't squat low bar too deeply that your buttocks would touch the floor. This is because a high bar position is necessary for that. If you will employ a high bar position with a rock bottom squat, you have to make sure that you have the needed flexibility. Otherwise, you will end up having your lower back rounding up at your bottom and this will hurt you as soon as you are squatting weights.

  • To prevent lower back pain, try to squat low bar then stop as soon as you are parallel. Your knees and lower back will thank you. And you'll be able to squat with more weight.

3. You May Be Loose on Your Squat

One of the reasons why you still end up rounding at the bottom even when not squatting too deep is that you are losing tension at the bottom of the squat.

How to stay tight:

  • Squat down while sitting back with the hips. Tighten the lower back by pushing the tailbone towards the ceiling. This will tilt your tailbone back.
  • Pinch the psoas muscle. Once you do this, your lower back will automatically straighten, and then pinch on the muscle between the upper thighs and belly.
  • Strengthen your upper back. Remember that you cannot tighten your lower back while your upper back is not tight. Do it by lifting your chest and keeping shoulder blades tight.

These positions may be awkward at first especially if your hips are used to prolonged sitting.

4. You Are Not Maximizing Your Gluteus Muscles

If you are spending way too much time sitting, your first instinct when it comes to squats will make you squat with an arched lower back. This hyperextension is just as bad as rounding the lower back at the bottom. What you can do to make your lower back start at a neutral position is by using your gluteus muscles as you squat.

  • Bring your knees out. Your stance should be at least at shoulder width. Outwardly rotate your hips as you squat.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor so as to create a hollow area that would allow you to bring your knees out more effectively.
  • End the lockout part of your squats by bringing hips forward while contracting your gluteus muscle.

5. You Are Forgetting About Your Abs

Maybe you are squatting while your belly is pulled in to stimulate the TVA. But this is wrong, that practice will cause you to have hernia secondary to rounding of your lower back.

  • The right way of doing a squat is by taking a full breath before squatting, filling the belly with air before bringing the abs out. The increase in pressure inside your belly would give support to your back that will power your squat.

To effectively use your abs, you can choose to wear a powerlifting belt during squats. But, you must wear about a notch loose so you can still pull some air into your belly and do your squats as you push the abs towards the belt.

Once you do your squats and you experience lower back pains, reconsider your technique. More often than not, it is the technique that is problematic and not the exercise. Even Mercola tags squats as the misunderstood exercise. Why? Because there are just so many benefits that you can get with this exercise. As a matter of fact, Dr. Mercola suggests that this should be part and parcel of every exercise regimen. It's simple to do, does not need any equipment, and can be performed anywhere.

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Benefits of Squatting

Don't give up squatting because it causes back pain. Use the techniques above to correct your technique and be inspired by the exercise's many benefits:

  • It is a functional exercise that would allow you to make everyday activities way easier.
  • Squats allow you to effectively build muscles in your whole body starting from hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves.
  • It helps you burn more fats. Having more muscles in your body will rapidly lose more fats.
  • Doing regular squats will help your body maintain mobility and balance better. As you get older, balance and mobility are often compromised. You can prevent this by having strong legs through squats.
  • As a result of the above mentioned increase in balance, you will also prevent more injuries.
  • If you are into sports, you can definitely benefit from squats as this will give you strong legs that are crucial from jumping higher and running faster.
  • Who doesn't want a toned body? If you dream of having toned abs and backside, give squats a go.
  • Remove toxic wastes from your body. Yes, squats help your body eliminate waste by helping in the distribution of body fluids and delivery of nutrients to the body.

Will an easily preventable lower back pain from squats stop you from being healthy? Make your choice.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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    • healthbooklet profile imageAUTHOR

      Sree Lakshmi 

      5 years ago

      Thank You :) !

    • erorantes profile image

      Ana Maria Orantes 

      5 years ago from Miami Florida

      Thank you for your welcome. I am grateful to you. Sometimes, people forget what is good for their own good. A reminder is the best cure for a lot of wrong things. You are good. God bless you.

    • healthbooklet profile imageAUTHOR

      Sree Lakshmi 

      5 years ago

      welcome @erorantes

    • erorantes profile image

      Ana Maria Orantes 

      5 years ago from Miami Florida

      Thank you for your hub. I like your advices on how to exercises to prevent injuries while being active. I tried some squats. They worked for my knee's pain. You are great mister healthbooklet. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.


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