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Lower Back Pain and Squatting

Squats can be the greatest weapon in the arsenal as you look to improve your strength and performance; However, if not respected, the squat can result in a serious injury.

Lower back pain from squats is definitely not part and parcel with this exercise. There is always an underlying reason as to why you may be experiencing pain in your lower back such as:

  • Previous injury to the lower back
  • Poor technique
  • Weakness of the core or other surrounding muscles
  • Tight muscles and reduced range in joints
  • Incorrect footwear
  • Wrong environment
  • Progressing the weight too quickly

Office Work, Back Pain and Squatting

When sat at a desk for long hours on end we often find ourselves feeling pain or stiffness in our lower back. This is because the muscles in the body, particularly the core, becomes weak. Staying in the same position also loads the joints and discs, it is this continuous load that your back doesn’t like.

This can become more of an issue if you go straight from the office to the gym. Especially in the lunch hour where you may struggle to complete a thorough warm up. Heading to the gym without fully stretching and preparing your body is a frequent factor in lower back pain from squats.

Common Types of Lower Back Pain and Squatting

Some of the well-known types of low back pain include nerve root irritation (e.g. sciatica), muscles spasm, bone deformity, ligament or muscle strain, or intervertebral disc prolapse or degeneration. Each of these problems can affect individuals differently – in some cases causing severe pain and disability and in others producing no symptoms at all.

DOMS – Delayed onset of muscle soreness. Gym regulars know this well! It is that morning after pain in the muscles that usually lasts around 48 hours. This IS normal and can be expected. Squats involve almost every muscle, so you can expect a lot of DOMS – especially if you are new to the gym or significantly increasing the weight you lift. This will ease and is ok to train again once settled. If it doesn’t, then it could be a sign of a muscle strain or other injury and worth seeking advice.

Treatment

Assured Health Physiotherapy suggests several options. Some cases of lower back pain resolve on their own. However, it often require some intervention from a physiotherapist, Registered Massage therapist, or a Chiropractor.

  • If you’re at a desk, simply changing the load of your back by standing every little while can really make the difference.
  • Are you doing an effective warm up? Engaging all the main muscles individually is really important before a squat. You may start with some glute work, core activation in a plank, some stretching and range of movement exercises etc. Seek advice if you’re unsure on how to do this!
  • Speak with a personal trainer or a physiotherapist, they can teach you effective warm ups and squatting technique.
  • If you are doing everything you think you can, visit one of our therapists. They will take you through an assessment to identify the source of your back pain, addressing your squatting technique and biomechanics. Following this a wide variety of treatment techniques will be used, alongside exercise to work on any issues identified in assessment.
  • If the back pain resolves quickly, but you are worried or just want to improve your technique, you can always pop in and see any one of our practitioners again.