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View Full Version : Squats - Lower back pain & form check



Jared R
06-17-2010, 07:56 PM
Great, I typed up a very long post and went to post it, but it just told me to log in.

To summarize what I had written: I have lower back pain after squatting my 1rm (300), and it has been 2 weeks since I've done much of anything to do with legs/back. I tried again today with 155 & 199 in the video, and it still hurts. I think I strained my lower back by rounding at the bottom, but I need advice. I think I can fix it if that is the only thing wrong with my form (medium stance, barefoot), but I'm worried that I'm still getting the pain after 2 weeks.

I'd be glad to go more in depth if needed. Here is the vid, and I tried different stances with 155. Ignore my basement.

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Edit: You're right about facing the wrong way haha.. Not used to using a power rack but I suppose it should be common sense.

cpa5oh
06-17-2010, 09:32 PM
I'm a nobody, and somebody more qualified is going to come along and give a more definitive answer, but I'd suggest:

1. Back the weight out of the rack...face the opposite way to how you're doing it now. Looks real awkward racking it with the rack/j cups behind you.

2. You look loose at the bottom of the squat from about the fourth rep on. Hard to explain, but it looks like there is give in your core/waist when you're at your depth just before you reverse direction to come up. Watch your knee and hip joints...when they stop moving at the bottom, the bar looks like it's continuing to travel down a little bit, and that can't be putting good forces on your lower back.

KarlMarx
06-18-2010, 03:11 PM
I'm a nobody, and somebody more qualified is going to come along and give a more definitive answer, but I'd suggest:

1. Back the weight out of the rack...face the opposite way to how you're doing it now. Looks real awkward racking it with the rack/j cups behind you.

2. You look loose at the bottom of the squat from about the fourth rep on. Hard to explain, but it looks like there is give in your core/waist when you're at your depth just before you reverse direction to come up. Watch your knee and hip joints...when they stop moving at the bottom, the bar looks like it's continuing to travel down a little bit, and that can't be putting good forces on your lower back.

I agree that you are a bit loose. Grip the bar super hard before you even come out and press your abs out/down into your feet before you squat. Think about sitting back to the degree you can feel some tightness/stretch in your hams. That way you should be tight through your core and back. In my experience, it has taken me years to get tight and I just keep on getting tighter and finding things to add into my squat. Its really quite complicated.

mastermonster
06-18-2010, 08:33 PM
You actually looked better with the wider stance at the end of the 1st set. You start well by breaking at the hip 1st, but the knees are still going forward. I think the forward knees and the looseness already mentioned are from the same thing. I'd say you are probably getting too much weight on the front of the feet. Around 70-75 percent of your weight should be on the heels using a flat soled shoe like Chucks (real cheap). This is the same thing I'm working on with 3 of our newer squatters now. We are also working on sitting back to a box (adjusted to just below legal break point using 1/2 inch pads stacked on it). The idea is to reinforce the concept of 'sitting back'; like you sit back to sit on the toilet (pardon the image but it sinks in better explained that way). Doing these things will make your torso stay more upright (less stress on the lower back). If mastered your shins will be more straight up and down to the floor instead of angled forward. Try icing and Ibuprofen for the back. Good luck!

waynemeat
06-18-2010, 09:00 PM
Do you perform any warm-ups before you squat? For example, body weight squat's and hip rotations. This was the main reason for my back being tight.

It might benefit you to sit back more into the squat, slow down the movement and tighten up too like the other guys said. Also, maybe try lowering the weight a little until you can get the movement right.

Your shoulders, hips and knees appear to be in sync for most reps but because you are leaning forward this will put a little more strain on your thighs and lower back.

Try searching for Squat Rx videos on youtube. They have been mentioned on here quite a few times. Very good for improving movement and technique.

Jared R
06-18-2010, 10:03 PM
I do some bw squats to dial in my form, as well as the occasional hamstring stretches. I mainly warm up with a weight I'm comfortable with.

I've already watched the Squat Rx vids, but I will no doubt be reviewing them. It does seem like a flexibility issue.

Edit: Actually, I think it probably originates from my bar positioning. I am used to doing low bar with a standard barbell. The problem started the first time I used an Oly bar. I tried positioning the bar on my back and noticed it was throwing me off balance a little bit (causing me to compensate). I couldn't help but do a few (3) light squats, and as long as I kept my balance I had no pain.

Thanks for the replies, and I'll follow up the next time I squat (Sunday if I feel good).

cpa5oh
06-18-2010, 11:34 PM
The idea is to reinforce the concept of 'sitting back'; like you sit back to sit on the toilet (pardon the image but it sinks in better explained that way). Doing these things will make your torso stay more upright (less stress on the lower back). If mastered your shins will be more straight up and down to the floor instead of angled forward.

I've never understood when people have told me that your torso can stay more upright if you sit back and keep your shins more straight up and down. Seems like the bar has got to be over the heels (from the side view) for you to put your best leverage to it. If your shins stay perpendicular and you sit back, given no change in stance width, your ass is going back behind your heels further and your lower back is going with it. If your lower back is going to be more behind your heels, seems to me that your torso is going to have to be less upright to keep that bar over the heels. Seems like how upright you can be with your torso is going to depend on how long your upper leg is and how wide your stance is...the shorter your upper leg the closer your butt and lower back can be to the heels, and the wider the stance the shorter the upper leg effectively is from the side view also keeping your butt and lower back closer to the heels.

IronDiggy
06-18-2010, 11:55 PM
You look kinda inflexible trying to squat, which is causing your back to round at the bottom. As well are you squatting on carpet? it looks like you are which is a whole lot of padding you don't need under your feet.

Jared R
06-19-2010, 12:09 AM
Actually it's tile, not carpet. I'll work on my flexibility as well.

mastermonster
06-19-2010, 12:28 PM
I've never understood when people have told me that your torso can stay more upright if you sit back and keep your shins more straight up and down. Seems like the bar has got to be over the heels (from the side view) for you to put your best leverage to it. If your shins stay perpendicular and you sit back, given no change in stance width, your ass is going back behind your heels further and your lower back is going with it. If your lower back is going to be more behind your heels, seems to me that your torso is going to have to be less upright to keep that bar over the heels. Seems like how upright you can be with your torso is going to depend on how long your upper leg is and how wide your stance is...the shorter your upper leg the closer your butt and lower back can be to the heels, and the wider the stance the shorter the upper leg effectively is from the side view also keeping your butt and lower back closer to the heels.

If your goal is to squat as a powerlifter, you will benefit enormously from working your stance out as wide as possible. That's why I commented that his form looked better on the wider stance. You'll never have a totally upright torso under any major weight. The goal is a more upright torso without rounding the back. The amount you can sit back will be determined by how wide you can get your stance, and by keeping the head and chest up high; creating more of a concave arched back and not rounding over.

The actual critical allignment is to be sure that the bar stays absolutely over the heels (where your pushing through) and the knees as close to that line as possible (hince the wider stance). Any amount the bar gets away from allignment with the heels will cause you to either have to lean forward or fall backwards. Perfect squat form is actually a fine line bar groove just short of falling backwards. That's why a back spotter is vital. Hope this helps clear it up.

mastermonster
06-19-2010, 12:43 PM
Actually it's tile, not carpet. I'll work on my flexibility as well.

Jared, The tile can be a slip hazzard as you widen out your stance. If you have a Tractor Supply Co. store near you they have hard rubber horse stall mats for under 30.00 ea. Guaranteed 10 years with 1000-1300 lb. horses. There's tough! They are 4x6 and 2 off them would probably be enough area to sit your power rack on. Great for squats and deadlifting. Most meets will have a carpeted platform or some use the mats similar to these. At a gym supply store the similar mats will cost you 3 -4 times as much.

Jared R
06-19-2010, 02:32 PM
My interests (lift as much weight as possible) are relevant to powerlifting. In the past I've tried widening out my stance but my hips / lower back were uncomfortable. I'm thinking this was because I wasn't sitting back enough (afraid to fall back) and perhaps a hip mobility issue.

Whatever the case, the tile does present a hazard. Even though $60 is very reasonable even for me, the problem is bigger than that. Here's my current situation: The power rack is my brother's, whom is moving out soon. I normally squat with no power rack on a cheap bench. This used to not present much of a problem; mostly because I never squatted too heavy. Nowadays it isn't really good enough, but I'm not going to have a good alternative soon. As for spotting without a rack, I could get the weight off my back myself if needed by lowering the weight to my bench's dumbbell stand, but it's really inconvenient and doesn't help if I were to fall. With this method, wide stance and going heavy are both out.

Otherwise, I would just buy a couple of those mats. I suppose what I really need is a job, a car, and a gym membership. But that won't happen for at least a few months.

Thanks for all of the responses.

Jared R
06-20-2010, 08:38 PM
Felt good enough to do some squats today. Started off with body weight and moved up in weight very slowly. To sum up today, I felt good with light weight and worked on my form a LOT, but my back did hurt at the bottom on heavier weights (200-250, most I did before backing off). High bar didn't help. Finished the session and was pleased that I could do an unassisted GHR. Took a contrast shower afterwards and am going to ice my back now.

Thanks again for all of the great advice. I hope to be 100% soon.

Gugunir
06-21-2010, 09:02 AM
It looks like you might be over extending your spine which can be just as harmful as it being in flexion, try grooving the neutral spine by squatting with a dowel on your back making sure there is no lumber movement before you squat. Adding in some planks and spinal stability exercises wouldn't be a bad idea as well. I second what others are saying about mobility flexibility as well it helped/helps me quite a lot with my lower back issues.

Sensei
06-23-2010, 01:10 AM
High bar or low bar position?

Jared R
06-23-2010, 02:12 AM
Low bar.

Sensei
06-23-2010, 03:25 AM
Tough to see w. the angle, but it looks like your knees are coming in, which suggests to me that you aren't engaging the hips properly. I'm grossly oversimplifying things here, but if you don't engage the hips properly, other things (like the lumbar and the knees) are going to bear a greater load than they should.

There are a lot of things in the Squat Rx videos that might help you, but this short article isn't bad and might be all you need. http://davedraper.com/blog/2009/09/16/deadlift-stud-squatting-dud/

Jared R
06-24-2010, 02:23 PM
Though I don't see my knees going in, I am curious as to what you consider "out." Normally I experience some hip pain and even some lower back pain when I do wide stance squats with toes pointing out. However, it does help to not point my toes outward as much. If you are suggesting that I push my knees out to the point where it normally hurts around my hammies, during even medium stance squats, then that's something I need to work on.

Bought a foam roller today that should help.