Back Pain When Squatting: Do you Even Squat . . . Properly?
Do You Get Back Pain When Squatting?
Squatting is one of the fundamental movements in life. Every time you sit in a chair or get out it one, you are squatting. Whenever you get in or out of your car you are squatting. If you pick something up off the floor and bend at the knees, well . . . you get the point. It’s time to stop suffering through back pain when squatting, or avoiding squatting because it flairs up your back pain.
The squat is something you do 10’s if not 100’s of times in a day. So why is something you do so often, avoided, or feared, when it comes to our training programs? The squat is an advanced movement pattern and poor form can often lead to back pain. The trick is to squat properly.
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Setting Up For Your Squat
If your performing unweighted or body weight squats, I recommend:
- Starting with feet hip width (or where you find comfortable) apart.
- Aim for feet to be parallel and facing forward.
If you are training squats at the gym it is acceptable to have feet slightly farther apart and rotated out slightly (10-15°). The further you have your feet apart and the more you rotate your feet out, the more of the surrounding muscles get utilised.
With this different stance is you will be able to recruit more muscles (move more weight) and move the weight through a controlled range of motion. The increased strength is good, but the loss of range of motion is bad, and can cause more troubles later on down the track.
Setting Up For Body Weighted Squats:
If weighted squats aren’t your bag, and you’re looking at refining squat movement pattern, I like to start by setting up feet hip width apart, feet parallel, and practice sitting “deep” into a chair and out of a chair slowly and controlled. Think reaching back to the chair so that your hamstrings are the first thing to touch down. This requires less mobility and will provide the correct form to get through most of your day to day activities.
If you want to work on mobility and get used to being in a deep squat position, give this exercise a try:
The Quadruped Rock Back:
This is a great way to get the body used to being into a squat position. It also helps you make sure you are controlling your mid section and not putting excess stress on your lower back.
- Start off on all fours.
- Place foam roller on back.
- Push hips back towards the wall without letting the foam roller fall off.
- Slowly return to the starting position
Once you have mastered the body weight squat, then you can start to add weight. Think suitcase squat, goblet squat, front rack squat, and back squat.
Keen to find out more about squat variances and “why my squat looks different to your squat? (click here). Once you’re ready to progress into weighted squats the first thing you want to do is make sure you have a rock solid trunk bracing strategy. Next up is working on your squat mobility. You can work on hip mobility and deep squat motor patterning with one of my favourite drills the Toe touch progression.
Now that you have nailed your squat it is time to work on the other 5 Foundational Movement patterns here.