Back pain from squats
- 01-15-2008, 10:36 PM
Back pain from squats
I recently began squatting and have had pain in my lower back. I am wondering if this is something that is normal when you first start this exercise (I doubt it). I am guessing it is my form or something structural (my back hurts where it did when I was rear ended in a car accident a number of years ago). Questions are 1) Is this normal? 2) Can I do other exercises to replace it that which will be as effective? I know I can use the leg press. Currently doing 5X5 program. Thanks for any help.
- 01-15-2008, 11:18 PM
I have the same problem. It never seems to go away. I was rear ended... 8 years ago. I was hit at 45 miles per hour in the diamond lane while I was at a dead stop. I'd been in many crashes without injury, but that one hurt my entire right side.
Squats hurt my back, regardless of the weight. And I can squat a lot, probably 500+ raw. I think I injured some of the joints in my back as they connect to the spinal column.
I went to a Chiropractor for 3 years following the incident. He always promised that recovery was slow, but would occur eventually.
I can lift heavy, I can lift light, I can do nothing at all and it's just intermittently painful.
My back was hurting really bad last Friday, and I did a Deadlift of 455 for 3 reps. And it stopped hurting.
I have no idea why.
Squats are hard on the back, though. The lower back is the Sacral region?
Building up your core strength, abs and lower back will usually help your back out.
Is it the muscle or your spine?
Stop me if I talk too much.
But I do feel your pain.
- 01-16-2008, 01:07 AM
01-16-2008, 11:05 AM
I know Ive started using the hammerstrength squat machine lately. You lay flat on your back to squat. Takes all the pressure off on my back.
01-16-2008, 04:52 PM
Btw, my back hurts in the exact same way. Starts (and originated) in top of the Thoracic region, then after Squats it goes all the way down to the Sacral... Coincidentally it is on my right side as well.
I theorize that this is because I was wearing a seatbelt, causing my body during the crash to fold to the left? Some twisting action
It hurts regardless of whether I squat or not, but Squats sure do hurt me. Sometimes they don't. Those are good days.
Then some day you're going to start doing these.
Then your back will really hurt.
I don't know how to fix it.
01-16-2008, 05:11 PM
To replace the squat, you need to do several isolation exercises, since it is a compound exercise. You already mentioned the leg press - I would recommend that you do them medium height on the sled with a shoulder width to hit the Quads. Since you are new at this, lear FORM before you add much weight. I can not tell if you have been using too much weight or just have bad form or both. Next you need to do some hamstring exercises - if you have a weak back, you would need a dr permission to perform back extensions (with no extra weight), and likely no stiff leg dead lifts - so that leaves ham string curls. I would also suggest some Leg extensions for added definition in the quads. And do seated, and donkey calf raises - you do not need to do standing calf raises, and forget the other types of squats. You do not need compression on your spine - which may also be part of the problem. Good luck to you. There is an entire section on form for exercises, and keeping care of your back in my new book DIALED IN
01-16-2008, 10:02 PM
01-16-2008, 10:03 PM
01-16-2008, 10:06 PM
01-17-2008, 12:49 AM
01-17-2008, 07:46 AM
To answer your question on using the leg press - you are correct, you roughly have nine positions for your feet in the leg press: Low, Medium and high, and narrow (feet together), shoulder width, and wide stance. The narrow position hits mostly Outer Quads, (helps the swep abit, though front squats hit higher on the quad), shoulder width hits all the quads pretty evenly, and the wide stance gets more inner thigh (I prefer to use the adductor & abductor machines for thighs). Low hits more on top of the quad, medium hits mostly quad, but some hamstring, and high hits a a large amount of hamstring (more than quad). Hence high and wide will press the most weight if that is all you want to achieve. For muscle building - bodybuilding, I recommend Medium hight and shoulder width - which I do up to 1200 lbs for low reps. But I warm up with 4-6 sets adding 100-200 lbs each set with Med height and feet close together to build the outer thigh. It is a matter of deciding what shaping you need to develop most.
01-17-2008, 07:52 AM
As far as development, you could try sissy squats at the end of your workout with high reps - do not worry about it if you can not do squats. As long as you understand the muscle groups involved and how to stimulate the heads of the muscles, that there are many ways to hit them. For example, try performing 21s with your lying, seated, or standing leg curls. You do not need a lot of weight - 50-80lbs will do it in total. If you do one leg at a time, may 30-60 lbs. The point is to squeeze at the time and get a stretch at the bottom, and have perfect form and increase intensity over time. I am sure you will do well since you are asking the right questions - best of luck to you - and oh by the way - stop right away if you feel pain. Muscle burn is good, but pain could set you up for injury and take you out of the game.
01-17-2008, 11:28 PM
I can do a 1200 leg press all the way down and up easily for many reps 8-10+. I can do it slow and controlled. I can squat 405-440 for reps and max over 500's, I can do Deadlift reps at 485 and max over 500's. But how come I don't look like you, Dialed In? Oh. Cause I'm also fat. Can I talk to God about being severely Ectomorphic? Yeah I could lose it with drugs, but I still won't tan. That's another one of my many problems. At least I won't live too long. The way a year goes by, I'll be dead before I know it.
Yeah, my suggestion for the back pain is to build up your core strength by doing abs/obliques and low back exercises.
01-17-2008, 11:36 PM
some slight lower back soreness may due to the fact that squats do actually work them very little. but if it hurts continuously then may be due to improper form, i.e. arched back.
01-18-2008, 12:50 AM
01-18-2008, 01:05 AM
I learned to squat on an assisted bar.... i forget what its called, but u know what i mean.... try that out. dont keep your feet directly under you though, then you'll feel it in your knees
01-18-2008, 06:14 AM
You might want to try Dave Draper's Top Squat Bar attachement. Its designed to take the stress off the shoulders but it also will keep you more upright.
01-18-2008, 06:25 AM
I really like doing Front Squats (bar in front). It takes a lot of the stress off your lower back (a little off the hams and glutes as well) and puts it on the quads and abs. In my opinion is a much more comfortable motion.
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01-18-2008, 06:33 AM
Supplementary movements and exercises will also help to bring your lower back up to speed with your quickly growing legs (threw out my back 3 or 4 times.. awful feeling and demotivating recovery).
Before and after squats, decompressing the spine has worked for me. If you have inversion rings, hop on them (hanging from a pullup bar, upside down). Even hanging from the pullup bar upright will stretch out your back. Good finisher after your last set to stretch your body out.
Supplementary exercises to keep in mind would be the roman chair(reverse situp) and the "good morning"(looks like a squat in the beginning, but you just bend at the back to just about parralel, knees stationary). Protect that lower back! Once it's injured, you are on the DL. Without the core you can't train at all!
01-18-2008, 08:38 AM
Congealed has a great point to - if you can do back extensions, low reps - under 10 per set), will be great to help build your code - crunches, side crunches and leg raises all build your core - For me, I do back extensions as the last exercise on back day - otherwise I cant do my 450lb shrugs - not even the 125 lb DBs - too much pressure on my lower back - even with a belt.
Here is some more info from my book DIALED IN
Chronic low-back pain, pain lasting longer than seven weeks, is the number one cause of disability in the United States. The longer you suffer, the worse the prognosis is likely to be for long term lower back health and recovery.
To avoid muscular imbalance that can cause injury, train your back with the same frequency and intensity as your chest.
The erector spinae is very much prone to injury. It is dangerous to under work them and then shock them with heavy training exercises such as dead lifts and barbell rows. If done properly, back extension exercises will develop strength and balance with the abdominals, improving posture and decreasing the chance of injury.
If you have lower back pain, do not perform exercises that utilize erector spinae muscles without advice from your health care provider.
If your erector spinae muscles are weak, injury becomes more likely as you may hyperextend the lower back (lean your torso too far back). Remember that for abdominal exercise, stretching up to 30% back is helpful. However, this assumes that it does not cause any erector spinae pain and there is no weight load for the back to pull. If your abdominal muscles are weak as well, focus on core stabilization before adding weight to many of the other exercises you perform.
You will notice that the workout journals in this book begin with exercises for the larger muscles of the back. This includes compound exercises such as chin-ups, dead lifts, and barbell (bent over) rows. Exercises designed to isolate the erector spinae come last in the order of your workout (similar to forearms last in arm workouts). This is because the muscles become weakened, and should be lightly stretched and left alone to recover. These can often be the muscles that take the longest to recover.
Your workouts should be spaced so that a leg day with heavy squats does not follow too soon after a back workout that weakens many of the muscles that will be used for stabilization. From personal experience, I can tell you that it is painful to try performing barbell squats the day after shrugs.
During back extension exercises, people often hyperextend their backs. They arch their spine back under the load of their torso (often with added weight) beyond the straight line of their body. You should not lean back when performing this exercise. This could cause a spine (disk) or erector spinae (muscle) injury. You should only go back to there your torso lines up with your legs.
8 to12 reps per set should be plenty for three sets of back extensions. I recommend a light toe touch stretch between sets to keep the muscles from tightening up too fast.
People often engage other muscles, including their legs and other back and hip muscles when performing back extensions. If you completely relax the rest of your muscles, and focus on your lower back to feel the exercise, you should only be able to perform a few reps at first. Be careful not to swing your back up quickly into a full arch, as injury is likely.
Always perform back exercises using slow, deliberate movements, holding for a second or more at the peak contraction point. Remember to squeeze at the top and get a good stretch at the bottom. I have seen people in the gym use a mid range motion during rowing exercises, which provides minimal stimulation for muscle growth, and it not recommended.
Be careful not to incur a rotator cuff injury – see the shoulder muscle group for more details.
A common mistake is to focus on pulling the weight with your hand and engaging your biceps more than your back. To make sure you are engaging your back muscles, feel the muscle working, have a slight arch to your lower back, and think of your hands as hooks for your back to pull from.
Stretch between sets to keep your back from tightening up. Toe touches are very effective for this. It is also helpful to stretch at other angles out over your toes or even pull lightly on a fixed object in front of you.
Why be Careful of Your Back?
Up to 20% of all injuries that occur in sports involve the lower back or neck, regardless of age.
Tension - equal and opposite loads are applied away from the top and bottom of the spine, which results in lengthening and narrowing of the spine.
Compression - equal and opposite loads are applied to the surface of the spine, resulting in shortening and widening of the spine. This can happen if you place a barbell that is too heavy on your shoulders, as when you perform a squat exercise.
Shear – a load is applied in two opposing directions parallel to the surface of the spine, which places internal angular pressure on the spine.
Torsion – a load is applied to the spine in a manner that causes it to twist. This can occur if you loose your balance.
Bending – a load is applied to the spine, which causes it to bend and subjects the spine to a combination of tension and compression. This can happen when performing weight training exercises without keeping your back straight.
Bridget Ryan. Photo by Eric Beach.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is a set of symptoms of pain caused by the irregular compression of one or more nerves in the lower part of the spinal chord that make up the sciatic nerve. It is also referred to as radiculopathy, which occurs when a spinal disc in the lower back has been extended beyond its normal position. This in turn causes pain in the radicular nerve connected to the sciatic nerve. There are many causes for sciatica, including a herniated disc and degenerative disc disease.
What are the causes of back pain?
There are two types of causes of back pain: those which are naturally occurring from congenital disorders and skeletal irregularities, and the more common injuries resulting from age, strain, trauma, or overexertion. Injuries in both men and women most often occur between the ages of 30 and 50, due to aging and sedentary life styles (not exercising). If you lifts too much weight or stretch your muscles too far, you may cause a sprain, strain, or spasm. If the spine is involved and is overstrained or compressed, a disc can become herniated.
With aging, bone density and strength decrease. The discs of the spine contain fluid to cushion the bones and nerves of the spinal column. These discs are under constant pressure when supporting your back movements. Over time, they lose fluid and become less flexible. If too much pressure is applied, the cartilage can become pressed into the spinal column where the spinal cord resides. This is extremely painful. Herniated discs tend to occur in the lumbar region of the spinal column. Heavy squats, heavy dead lifts, or poor form in most back exercises can cause this type of injury.
Symptoms - The pain is often felt in both the back and the legs, depending on which disc(s) have been affected. You might also experience numbness or a tingly sensation in the legs or feet. The pain is often worse when you move and causes more pressure on the nerve where the damage has occurred.
If this happens to you stop exercising and see your health care professional immediately. Before you start a new program of exercise, get approval from your health care provider.
How can I avoid injury?
Include stretching before and after exercise. Warm up slowly, and remember to warm down so back muscles do not tighten up too much or too quickly. Work your abs and erector spinae to provide core stabilization through exercise. Breath during exercises: inhale and exhale while exercising – do not hold your breath. Holding your breath increases the internal pressure on your body and can cause injury. Stretches such as toe touches and side stretches help warm up the muscles around the spine. Above all, only use perfect form and select an amount of weight that you can handle. A weight lifting belt can help you. I never attempt to use a weight with which I can not perform at least 6 reps. However, there is no guarantee that you will not receive an injury if you continue to use heavier poundage. That is why over thirty intensity techniques have been included in this book. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that the only way to grow is to add more weight. Injury is likely to occur when the spine and its supporting structures can not withstand acute forces of compression. In exercises such as the dead lift and the squat, form must be perfect. With several hundred pounds on your back, the slightest twist can put you out of commission for weeks. Do not round your back, since this bends your spine and can cause a herniated disk by compressing and extending the vertebrae.
01-18-2008, 11:33 PM
I definitely get I should be working my core. I am doing back extensions 1x per week (3 sets weighted), crunches after every workout as prescribed by the current 5x5 I am doing. Basically calls for squating and (considering replacing w/ leg presses med and high height), benching 3x per week, deadlifts on Wed., rows on Mon. and Fri., weighted dips, curls and close grip bench Fri. I am just getting back to the gym after a nasty fight w/ tendonitis in my forearms which lasted about 6 mnths. This means I have to use a neutral grip on pressing movements alot (dumbells for bench), and I am laying off the overhead presses for now. Also do hammer curls. This is just to get started back. Will experiment w/ different grips as I go. Anyway, would you recommend other core work? Thanks for all the suggestions.
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