Lower Back Pain after Squats: Causes and Remedies

Squats are a great exercise to incorporate in your workout routine if you are trying to sculpt and build muscle in your lower body. It is a strenuous exercise that rewards you with increased strength and improved performance. However, you must pay attention when performing them as you can get lower back pain after squats if you do not do them correctly. Getting distracted for only a few moments and you can sprain a muscle, causing pain and discomfort.

Why It Hurts?

1.     Pushing Yourself Too Hard

If you push yourself too hard when exercising you can get lower back pain after squats. The exercise uses your quadriceps and gluteals, the body’s strongest muscles. Because of this, you may attempt to do more too early in your routine. If you are using weights while you do your squats, you should slowly increase the amount you lift. Do not increase the intensity of your workout too quickly or you can hurt the muscles in your spine and lower back.

2.     Neglecting Your Other Muscles

If you work out the lower half of your body, but neglect to exercise your torso, calves, hamstrings, arms and other muscles vital to balance and symmetry, you can end up injuring your lower back. If you exercise to strengthen your bottom half, don’t forget the top. After you work out your left side, don’t forget about your right. Neglecting to do so will cause a disproportion in stabilization and strength.

3.     Forgetting to Stretch

You can experience lower back pain after squats if you forget to stretch beforehand. When you stretch your muscles, you provide them with the flexibility they need to gain better range of motion. Without it, your muscles are tight and can be easily strained. Along with stretching, you should do a few simple warm up exercises before you begin strenuous activities. You should also do cool down stretches at the end of your workout routine.

4.     Not Keeping Your Back Straight

When doing squats, especially if you add weights, you need to keep your back in a straight and upright position. This enables the heaviest part of the load to travel evenly down your back and spine. If you start to arch forward, you push the load onto your lumbar vertebrae. This will cause a strain on your lower back. The more you angle forward, the more you increase your chances of injury.

5.     Incorrect Weight Bar Position

The classic squat that includes weights, referred to as the bodybuilder squat, involves placing the weight bar on your cervical vertebrae. While this repositions the stress so it is carried by the quadriceps, it adds more load to the lumbar vertebrae. This can lead to injury. With this in mind, it is safer to use the revised classic power lifter squat, which repositions the stress to the gluteals. In this case, the bar is placed farther back and on the scapula.

6.     Breaking Form

If your goal is to do 20 repetitions, then you should adjust your weight load so you can do so in the correct form. You don’t want to put too little weight or your progress will be stunted. But you don’t want to put too much weight or you may not be able to perform your squats correctly. When you break form, you can experience lower back pain after squats as well as other injuries.

7.     Ignoring the Warning Signs

Sometimes your body will give you subtle hints that you are on your way to an injury. It may be an odd feeling as you squat down or a little pull in a muscle. You may choose to ignore it, but this is ill-advised. Your body may be trying to tell you if you keep on going, you are going to hurt yourself. You should stop immediately and apply ice to the area. Rest until you are sure you will not experience further injury.

Exercises to Relieve Your Lower Back Pain

1.     Stretch Your Hips

If you do not properly stretch your hip muscles before activity, you increase the risk furthering injuring your back. Your body shifts movement to the spine when your muscles are tight, which makes you more vulnerable to further damage and pain.

To properly stretch your hip muscles and increase your flexibility, incorporate three types of stretches into your daily routine. The stretches include the hamstring stretch, the hip flexor stretch and the piriformis stretch. Perform them twice daily for 30 seconds each.

2.     Strengthen Your Core

Your body’s core includes your gluteals, lower back and abdomen. Whenever one of them is injured, the others must compensate for it. Lower back pain after squats can occur if you have weak gluteals and abs, because your back must take on the burden of supporting your core. By bolstering these areas, you can relieve lower back discomfort.

Three exercises that can assist in strengthening your abdomen and gluteals include the plank, side plank and glute bridge. Incorporate them into your exercise routine every other day.

  • Planks: Keep your body aligned in a straight line. Focus on tensing your abdominal muscles. Start slowly and work up to holding the position for up to one minute. You can slowly add weight on your back, but do so carefully and only after any injury is completely healed.
  • Side planks: Also keep your body aligned. To do so, raise your hips so you can maintain a straight line. In this case, focus on tensing your abdominal muscles on the bottom half closest to the floor. Start slowly and work up to holding the position for 40 seconds on both sides.
  • Glute bridge: Make sure to push your hips upward. Focus on tensing your gluteals muscles. Start slowly and work up to holding the position for one minute. Once you are completely healed, you can place a weight on your hip to increase intensity.

3.     Foam Roll

Foam rolling works by reducing tension to the hip muscles. To properly stretch the area and improve your flexibility, incorporate three types of foam rolling exercises into your daily routine. The stretches include the foam roll IT band stretch, the adductors foam roll stretch and the foam roll piriformis stretch. Perform them twice daily for 30 seconds each. Be sure to pause the foam roll on the areas that feels pain.

4.     Improve Your Posture

Improving your posture goes a long way in reducing lower back pain. When you have bad posture, you increase the strain to your upper back, lower back, shoulders and neck. Maintaining proper posture can be accomplished by holding your head high, resisting the urge to slouch, and drawing your shoulders back.

To assist you in improving your posture, you can perform chest and neck stretches. Complete them once a day, holding each for 30 seconds. When performing your neck stretch, carefully roll your head from one side to the other. Afterwards, with one hand pull your head gently down. The other hand should lay relaxed on your side. You will feel a slow stretch. Both will assist in relieving lower back pain after squats.

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