Squat pain advice
I have recently left the infantry and decided I'm going for a more bulking style routine. While I was in the army, I had an overall weight regime (sometimes split routines, sometimes all over workouts depending on what I had during the week), but never really wanted to bulk too much since the sort of work I was doing was about endurance, endurance, endurance and not strength.
Now however, I'm bored and want to bulk, perhaps a dangerous combination since I think I have already injured myself. I started with the squat and could hardly believe how weak I was (started with 70kg (154 lbs) on the bar - almost died doing 17, then 12 reps (intended 20 and 15)) - I thought I would be better since this is the kind of weight I'd TAB with for hours on end in the army, let alone squat, though I guess the mechanics are different and I did not respect this as I should. I did not join the infantry because I am smart... anyway I did this twice, four days apart, and I now get a really crippling cumulative pain in my traps when doing squats or deadlifts. Oddly, ONLY when doing these exercises, as if the pain somehow travels up my back from my legs. I can do dumbbell rows with really quite heavy weight and feel no discomfort at all - same with lateral raises, shrugs etc. But ANY kind of squat, including dumbell squats and dumbells on shoulders, causes really cripping discomfort that radiates into the back of my neck and my head, which really slows me down for the rest of my regime since it lingers, and I like to start with squats. The pain does not go away for a good hour, basically ruining the effort I can put into the rest of my regime, since it causes a kind of overall ill feeling.
I am a complete newbie tool at squats and I'm pretty sure I started out with too much weight. I don't feel the need to see a doctor/physio as the pain ONLY occurs at squats, not in any other exercises or during my everyday working life. I had my technique looked at by a tankie friend and he said it was fine, I had originally honed my form without weight, but then went straight to 70kg, which I thought was light and well I guess it is..
I was wondering if anyone had any experience with this sort of pain and/or tips they could offer to avoid it in the future? I've heard of the benefits of the squat and this basically puts my bulking plans on their arse. I rested it a week and tried again yesterday, but the pain came back after two reps and I stopped instantly. I was thinking resting it for six weeks is probably the minimum I'm looking at.
Sorry for the vague outline, but any input would be appreciated.
With the level of pain you describe it would be a good idea to see a Doctor.
If you do the squats with no bar at all, ie just body weight, do you feel any sort of discomfort?
Seeing a doctor would be a good idea if you're having pain like that.
Bar placement could be an issue - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eZ1HzoH0Rw
Thanks for the reply, I'll consider going to the doctor, but though the pain is bad when I agitate it, otherwise it gives me no problems whatsoever. It seems to occur when absolute downward force is placed on the trap, whether it be in the form of dumbell deadlifts or with the bar across my traps during a complete squat. If the force applied is anything but downward (towards my feet), I have no issue. As I squat, initially I get a blood rush to my head, and then the pain begins, and gets worse and worse... until I stop, when it levels out and throbs and eventually dissipates. It only occurs in my left trap, which is actually notably smaller when 'pumped' than my right trap... perhaps this uneven make-up has made the issue worse.
Originally Posted by Sensei
Thanks again for the advice - if I do the squat with no bar, I do not feel any pain, or even discomfort except for minimal fatigue.
Originally Posted by mikesbytes
I could take up quarter squats, but I'd really prefer to do completes - I used to do quarters before and the effect isn't amazing. I've noticed that it barely occurs during what I call Romanian deadlifts... it's weird.
It really sounds to me like you're racking the bar improperly and when you decend, you lean forward, and the bar hits your spine. I could be wrong and without a good video of your bar placement, there's no way to know for sure, but look into it.
btw, you should watch this video too (Squat Rx #12 - Part II): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=steEXp9M4hQ
I can see how you'd come to that conclusion, with the pain getting worse and worse the longer I do it. I wish it were so (i.e. an impact injury), but the problem is that the style that gives me the most intense "version" of this pain, is with dumbells done in the dumbell squat style listed at exrx. Hence no bar.
I'll just lay off and then come back with really light weights. I probably damaged some soft tissues in my left hand side. It wouldn't be the first time I over-estimated my ability...
The fact that you don't have a problem without the bar, does point to bar problems. Follow Sensei's advice.
I will be sure to take note of this in the future, but I feel the pain currently irrespective of the exercise style (so long as it is all the way down ("complete"), and the weight is directed down through the upper trap and lower trap at some point - doesn't have to be a squat, deadlift causes the same pain). Perhaps I caused myself the original injury in the manner Sensei suggested.
I was originally taught to squat by a PTI, wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't proper form so I'll watch the videos.