Pain Free Working

Why Do Squats Hurt My Back? (And How to Fix the Problem)

Squats are a fundamental exercise for performing daily tasks, building strength, and improving overall fitness. However, many people experience back pain when performing squats, which can be frustrating and concerning. Understanding the reasons behind this pain and how to address it is crucial for maintaining a healthy and effective workout routine.

Why Are Squats Bad for Your Back?

Squats themselves are not inherently bad for your back. In fact, squats offer so many benefits, including building a strong core and making your body more stable. However, making several common mistakes can contribute to lower back pain during squats:

Poor Squatting Technique

Common squat mistakes include having a poor squat technique, making it the number one cause of back pain during squats. When the spine is not properly aligned, excessive stress can be placed on the lower back.

Weak Core Muscles

Poor core strength can lead to weak stabilization of the spine, causing the lower back to compensate and take on more load, leading to lower back pain.

Mobility Issues

Poor hip mobility and poor ankle mobility can force the lower back to round or arch excessively during the squat movement.

Inadequate Warm-Up

Not warming up properly can result in stiff muscles and joints, increasing the risk of injury.

Too Much Weight

Using too much weight before mastering the proper form can place more stress on the lumbar spine and the back muscles, leading to lower back pain.

Is It Normal to Have Back Pain After Squats?

Experiencing muscle soreness in the lower back after squats is a common ailment, especially if you are new to the exercise or increasing your weight. However, acute pain or persistent pain is not normal and indicates that something is wrong.

You may be doing the squat incorrectly, your muscles may not be warmed up properly, you may have mobility issues, or you may be aggravating a previous injury. It’s essential to listen to your body and address any discomfort before it leads to further injury.

If back pain after squats persists, it may be beneficial to consult with a medical professional, such as a physical therapist or chiropractor. They can help look through your medical history, previous injuries, or other issues and help provide a personalized assessment and treatment plan.

How to Do Squats Without Hurting Your Back

To perform squats without experiencing lower back pain or acquiring other back injuries, it’s essential to focus on good technique and preparation.

Correct Starting Position

A common mistake that leads to lower back pain and muscle imbalances when doing a squat starting incorrectly. Before you begin a squat, make sure that you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes slightly pointed out as this stance provides better balance and stability.

Your hips and knees are at an increased risk of injury if your feet are turned out at an angle. Your knees also become less stable, affecting your form and leading to back pain.

Maintain Neutral Spine

Ensure that you maintain a neutral spine position throughout the movement. Avoid rounding or excessively arching your lower back.

Engage Core Muscles

Take a deep breath and brace your core as if you are about to take a punch to the stomach. This helps stabilize your spine.

Hip Hinge Movement

Initiate the squat by pushing your hips back as if you are sitting on a chair. This reduces stress on your lower back.

Depth Control

Only squat as deep as your mobility allows while maintaining good form. Over time, work on increasing your depth safely.

Controlled Movement

Avoid rapid, jerky movement patterns. Perform squats in a slow, controlled manner to maintain form and reduce injury risk.

How Do I Stop My Back from Hurting When I Squat?

If you feel pain when squatting, there are steps you can take to alleviate the discomfort:

Check Your Squat Technique

Have a fitness professional or trainer review your squat technique. Small adjustments can make a significant difference. Avoid rounding your lower back or allowing it to excessively arch. Focus on the proper hip hinge mechanics and ensuring that your knees are in line with your toes.

Do Squat Variations

Finding the correct squat variation that you’re comfortable with can help avoid lower back pain while squatting. This is because squat variations can aid in promoting proper squat mechanics, engage key muscles, and reduce strain on the lumbar spine.

A beginner-friendly squat variation is goblet squats which target the leg muscles and core while also stabilizing the shoulders and spine.

Strengthen Core Muscles

Incorporate exercises that increase core activation, such as planks, dead bugs, and bird dogs. A strong core provides better spinal support.

Improve Joint Mobility

Work on increasing your hip and ankle mobility with stretches and mobility exercises. Incorporate exercises that can lengthen the hip flexors such as lunges and hip flexor stretches. To reduce poor mobility of your ankles, you can do calf stretches, ankle circles, or standing heel lifts.

Warm-Up Properly

Spend at least 10-15 minutes doing a proper warm-up with dynamic stretches and light cardio to loosen up tight muscles, increase blood flow, and prepare the body for squatting.

Reduce Weight

Lifting weights or adding weights that you aren’t used to can put excessive strain on the body. Lower the weight you are lifting until you can perform the squat with proper form without back pain.

Use Supportive Gear

Consider using a weightlifting belt for added lumbar support during heavy lifts, but do not rely on it to compensate for poor form.

Therapeutic Massage

Aside from doing the proper technique and strengthening your muscles, getting a therapeutic massage every now and then can help promote relaxation throughout the body, improve blood flow, and reduce muscle tension.

Final Note

The bodyweight squat is a valuable exercise for building strength, but it must be performed properly to avoid low back pain. You can prevent and reduce inflammation associated with squats when you maintain proper form, enhance your core strength, warm up adequately, and address common mistakes and underlying issues. The next time you do squats, you’ll surely be pain-free!

Always prioritize proper squat form over adding weight. Seek medical attention and ask guidance from pain specialists if you experience chronic pain.

Tricia Montano

Tricia founded Pain Free Working in 2019 due to suffering from degenerative disc disease in her L5-S1 from working an office job for the past 18 years. She and her team strive on finding and reviewing the best office equipment to help fellow pain sufferers find relief and to enable people like her to do their jobs comfortably.