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Why Do Squats Hurt My Lower Back – The Answer Explained

Oct 14, 2017

Why Do Squats Hurt My Lower BackWe’ve all heard how important squats are and that we should be doing them. But sometimes after a tough squat workout they leave you wondering why do squats hurt my lower back?

Athletes and fitness enthusiasts all agree that if you want a strong and muscular body, then squats must be a key part of your workout routine.

You psych yourself up to go to the gym and do your thing, hoping to reach your squat PR because you know this compound, multi-muscle exercise is a must.

But no matter how hard you try–you just can’t-do it–your back is killing you at the bottom of each rep.

You just can’t help but wonder if squats are so good for you then why do squats hurt my lower back…am I doing them wrong?

Unfortunately for many of us, we lead sedentary lives where we drive to work, sit in front of the computer for at least 8 hours, then slouch down on a soft couch for a few hours either during or after dinner.

So we end up with stiff, tight bodies when we exercise and, even worst yet, lower back soreness when we push ourselves to do those squats.

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While the muscles of the lower back are targeted during squats, constant soreness and overuse can result in pain.

We end up feeling the movement in places we shouldn’t, and some sort of injury is inevitable.

No matter how heavy you are lifting, make sure you’re protected from straining your back by using a quality weight belt.

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Why Do Squats Hurt My Lower Back? – First Reevaluate Your Form

how to avoid lower back pain after squats

If after doing squats you’re left wondering why do squats hurt my lower back then the first thing to look at is your form.

Now would be a good time to reevaluate our form and find out if there is something that we are doing wrong when squatting that is contributing to our lower back pain.

See if any of the following problems might be affecting you and preventing you from going low and heavy when doing your squats.

When you squat you sit back and down, a movement that should be initiated from your hips and knees, not the lower back.

If your back rounds, your lower back could sustain an injury.

The more your back rounds the greater the pressure on the spine, which is dangerous.

On the other hand, if you overarch your lower back when your hips go forward and your butt sticks out, you are compressing the spinal segments and using the muscles of your lower back to keep your spine from rounding forward.

Stopping the spine from rounding is great but not by only using the muscles of the lower back, which will result in overworked muscles, soreness, and future injury.

So if you find that your form is not how it should be then that will be the biggest solution to answering your question as to why squats hurt my lower back.

Related Article: How Do Squats Make Your Upper Body Bigger?

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Something else to be conscious of is where are you placing your hands on the bar?

Most people spend so much time trying to find a comfortable position for resting the bar on their shoulders that they forget about their hands.

When you set yourself up for a squat, you must grip the bar tightly and try to pull your elbows under the bar.

Squeeze the bar hard and brace your torso to create full tension throughout your body.

This type of tension will enable you to exert the most force possible and lift the most weight without getting hurt.

Related Article: 5 of the Best Squat Racks for Home Gym That Are Actually High Quality

Do you focus your eyes in front of you when you squat?

Lowering your eyes while squatting and allowing your chest to lean forward will put extra weight on your back.

Don’t lean forward so much that your chest bows towards the floor.

Concentrate on keeping your elbows pulled down and facing the ground and your chest up.

This will help your torso stay more upright during the lift.

Be conscious of your flexibility and mobility.

It’s hard to hit a good squat pattern if you have a tight upper back, hips, and ankles.

This is especially true when you increase the weights.

Be Consistent

One of the biggest things with correct form which will keep you from wondering why do squats hurt my lower back is consistency :

High quality and good consistent form is a must.

Consistent good warm-ups and movements to increase your mobility will help you achieve a full range of motion along with the good form.

Adding a thorough warm-up, preferably done in bare feet, can help make a big difference in your squats and how you feel after you have completed your squat routine.

When you feel tightness in your hips, glutes, and hamstrings, flexibility can be a big problem.

Other common issues

Another common issue is losing ankle mobility, which restricts our shins from moving forward in a natural manner as we squat down. Working on some ankle mobility drills will help us squat more deeply and more safely.

Also, keep an eye on your knees as you squat. Keep your knees open and if it seems as if one or both knees are trying to lean towards the opposite one, then this must be corrected before you really hurt yourself.

Lower back pain is also caused when we try to add too much weight before we are really ready it.

As the body lowers into a deep squat the leverage advantage decreases.

Lessening the range of motion means we can go heavier, which is why most lifters squat above parallel.

But if you drop the weight and increase your range of motion using the correct weight, you will build more muscle and be less likely to injure yourself.

Remember to always take a deep inhaling breath when moving downward into the squat and exhaling as you drive up out of the squat to get the most out of intra-abdominal pressure (IUP).

This, combined with bracing your torso, is your natural lifting belt.

Don’t become too dependent on your weightlifting belt and end up wearing one all the time.

Wear a Belt

By wearing a belt with the heavier sets you will be increasing your overall body strength and developing a stronger core.  best weightlifting belt for crossfit

In general, an ideal goal would be working up to the point where you only put on a belt when you are around or greater than 85% of your one rep max.

Keep in mind that the instability of thick-soled running shoes will increase your risk for injury as you add more weight.

Shoes with a harder sole are a better option.

Source: https://www.bornfitness.com/why-do-squats-hurt/

Good timing

Timing also makes a difference so if you are squatting the day after deadlifting or heavy back work, your lower back needs more time to rest.

You should have at least two days of rest between heavy lower back work and squatting, even more, would be ideal.

When you do a lot of heavy physical work that includes lifting with your lower back, doing squats at the end of your workday is not the best idea.

Tips for the different types of squats and lower back pain

high bar squats low bar squats comparison

If you’ve checked your form and you feel like everything is correct but you’re still left with lower back pain and subsequently the question of “why do squats hurt my lower back” then here are some tips to help with lower back pain when you squat.

With back squats, first, figure out if you are doing high bar squats or low bar squats. Once you know what type you are doing then you can make sure you do them right.

Once you know what type you are doing then you can make sure you do them right.

For more information on how to relieve back pain by doing different types of squats, visit our friends over at Biospine and check out their awesome article that has great information on the topic!


For the high bar squat:

You place the bar on top of your traps. Well, when you prefer this form your body

If you prefer this form, your body needs to remain more upright during the exercise.

If you sit back too much, the bar moves farther away from your center of gravity. That’s when you end up having your lower back take the strain.

So remember to not lean forward too much with high bar squats. Since this will strain your back when you are using heavy weights.

When you place the bar on top of your traps, you should bend your knees a bit. And you can go lower on this particular squat.

Related Article: The Best Powerlifting Belt for Deadlifts and Squats

Source image: http://www.mindmusclegreatness.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/highbarlowbarcomparisson.png

With the low bar squat:

The bar is lower on your back. You can position the low bar in the middle of your shoulder blades (scapula).

It should sit on your rear deltoids.

With this form, you need to lean forward more.

This variation will lessen the strain from your lower back.

When doing low bar squats, sometimes you are going too low. Your lower back will round too much and that can lead to back pain.

You should break parallel on low bar squats to reach the correct depth.

Make sure your lower back remains flexed and tight while squatting.

Men often find it more difficult to do this.

If you do a back extension, hold it at the very top. You will get a feel of how it’s supposed to feel when the lower back is flexed and held tightly.

Always brace your abs, this will keep your back from overextending.

back squats vs front squats

Take a deep breath, hold it for the full rep. And brace your abs in the same way you would if you were expecting to get punched in the stomach.

This is the same style of breathing that should be used for heavy lifting. http://getthisstrength.com/lower-back-pain-from-squats

Other squats you can try:

Rather than just focusing on back squatting add some front squats, Zercher squats, and powerlifting squats to your routine.

The variety will not only help you get stronger. But you will also become less likely to plateau at a certain point. This is the answer to the question why do squats hurt my lower back.

Strong quads are also important when squatting so try to strengthen and stabilize with exercises like step-ups and lunges.

Source image: http://valentinbosioc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/backsquatsvsfrontsquats.jpg

Conclusion for why do squats hurt my lower back?

Sit up straight! Don’t slouch when sitting or standing, be conscious of your posture.

Hold your abdominals in, keep your shoulders up and back, and your neck and head level and upright.

Remember though, if you’re hurt and have an injury then you’re not making any gains at all. So definitely get yourself a quality weight belt like ours:

The Dark Iron Fitness Genuine Leather Weightlifting Belt

Many people even adjust their car seats so that they are in a straight and rigid position. Rather than leaning all the way back while driving.

Try to get up and move, especially if you are sitting all day.

When you are constantly sitting your muscles get tight and contract.

Walking around every 20 minutes or so will help not only ease lower back pain. But it also helps with other soreness and tightness you might have.

Here are some videos of squats to check out: