So I have been having some low back pain from squats. Before I get into it a little history;
I have been working out for about 9 years, however I took a couple of years off squatting due to school and other issues. In the past 4 months I have been trying to get back to squatting heavy, I understand that this will be a long process and have been taking it slowly in accordance with this. Two things I have noticed in this process is that I seem to have lost a lot of hip flexibility, by this I mean that while I can go plenty low when loaded i.e. 275 lbs and up, my hips and outer quads feel really tight when not under at least this amount of load and it is very hard to get low. Second; My low back and hip structure is definitely my weak point in the squat.
I have been squatting raw as much as possible the last couple of months, only using a belt on heavy sets of 6 or fewer reps. In the past when I squatted heavy I used a belt on any loaded working set and never experienced any back pain other then the occasional dull soreness associated with muscle recovery or DOMS. I have been squatting raw in an attempt to strengthen my lower back and hip structure. I have not been DL'ing because my job is such that I am worried about over working my low back. I currently drive delivery/work warehouse for a paint store, so I am loading/unloading/stacking/sorting 90-120 lbs buckets of industrial paint all day. This makes for what amounts to hundreds of 90-120 lbs one-handed rack pulls everyday, thus the lack of DL'ing in my program.
However, disturbingly often I have 'tweaked' my low back, and I mean LOW like just an inch above my hip joints where the spine attaches to the pelvic bone/hip structure. When this occurs I stop my workout, and go directly to devices such as leg press and hack squat where my low back is more supported. I have never felt this 'tweak' when belted. It feels like a muscle or ligament is being stretched, or is out of place, and is not the dull ache associated with muscle fatigue.
My problem then is two-fold; How do I loosen and stretch my outer quads? I suspect it is not the muscle itself that is 'tight' but the large tendon which runs down the outside of one's leg. Two; should I just give in and do all my squats with a belt? Should I then add in DL's somewhere to strengthen my low back and Hip structure?
This has been a really long explanation, but I really want to get back to squatting low and HEAVY, and am finding this difficult to do as explained above. I greatly appreciate any and all help in this endeavor.
Victory belongs to the most persevering.
I like weights. You know where you stand with them. Well, sometimes you're lying under them, trying not to let them crush you, but you see, you KNOW they'd crush you if they could. There's honesty.
T. Campbell and Gisele Lagace
#1) I would look at your form and ab strength too. Are your hips coming in when you hit the bottom of the squat? Are you keeping your chest out, upper back and abs tight throughout the movement (especially in and out of the hole)?Originally Posted by Ironminded
#2) Squats are a great exercise, but IMHO they are not the best lower back strength building exercise. If you feel your lower back is weak, you should be doing something for it like GMs, hypers, or DLs.
#3) Are you talking about your hip flexors being tight? There are a ton of stretches and calisthenic-type movements (i.e. "dynamic stretches") that you can do. If I have time to find some links, I'll post them. You probably need to be spending time working on your hamstring flexibility too.
#4) The belt is a tough one to answer... I don't personally subscribe to the Paul Chek line of thinking that the belt is a crutch and will lead to injuries. I almost always use a belt after 315, but that's just me.