Are these safe. I have no other way of doing squats other than on the Smith. But I can really feel it straining my lower back. I haven't got an injury but am worried about the long term effects.
Don't use the smith machine.
I find it hard to believe that your gym doesn't have a barbell you can use.
How to Squat on a Smith Machine
haha I'm giving you a little bit of a hard time. Have you considered finding a new gym? If your gym doesn't have a power rack or squat stands, I guess you'll have to squat in the smith machine. Put your feet a little farther out in front of you though. You can't squat in a smith with the same form that you use with free weights
front squats are a great alternative