Squats are an incredibly common and useful exercise that almost anyone can perform. They are extremely beneficial when done correctly. However, if you have existing back pain issue or find that you can’t execute squats without back pain some additional work may be needed. One of the biggest setbacks in people’s exercise regimens is injury and while a good workout may leave you sore, it should never leave you in pain. Here we discuss why squats are so helpful and what you should do if you experience back pain while trying to utilize them. 

Why Squats are Beneficial

There are many benefits from squats but the overall most desirable are the following:

  • Stronger Joints: Squats engage many different muscles throughout your body when performed properly including your hips, core, ankles, hamstrings and knees. 
  • Increased Core Strength: Your core is the center of your body and if it is not strong enough, you will probably have difficulty keeping your spine in alignment and your body in the correct positions when trying to exercise. 
  • Building Your Leg Muscles: Squats not only help with improving your core but also your legs and glutes. 
  • Burning Calories: While cardio queens may not consider squats a solid fat burner, working many large muscle groups at the same time can burn calories and stimulate your metabolism
  • Easy to do, many variations, and can be performed anywhere: Another reason, squats are such an ideal exercise is that you don’t need any special equipment and you can do them almost anywhere. 

Why Back Pain from Squats Happens?

If squats are such a wonderful exercise with so many benefits, why would they cause pain? There are many reasons you could feel discomfort beyond the typical soreness that comes with exercising. 

Your form or technique could be deficient. 

Squats utilize a large range of muscles and tendons and if your posture or technique is not correct you may flex your body too far or not far enough. Improper technique can be the root cause of knee or back pain during squats

Your loading too much weight across your back. 

Squat variations are a wonderful benefit to this exercise. That said, you need to be careful when using these variations especially when adding weight to the movement. If you are using weights while squatting start small and slowly build up your endurance as well as your technique. If you push your body too far too fast you risk an injury. 

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You skip a warm up. 

You shouldn’t start exercising without stretching and warming up your body first. When you take the time to perform a proper warm up your it increases your flexibility and range of motion making you less susceptible to injury and able to make the most of your workout. 

Your core isn’t strong enough to maintain the correct posture.  

Your core is an integral part of squatting. If your core isn’t stable enough to maintain your position throughout the squat you put your back at risk. A weak core puts the bulk of the work on your lower back potentially causing strain or injury. A strong core also helps stabilize you throughout this exercise. Without that core strength you can lose your balance and fall forward or backwards. 

You could be aggravating a previous injury. 

If you had a back, leg or abdominal injury in the past, you may be more susceptible to reinjury. This means that squatting could put strain on an already tender or damaged area. If you think that current exercises are straining an old injury, consult with a physician to determine if your old injury has properly healed and what exercises are safe to perform. 

Weak or tight muscles are another possible culprit of pain. Because squats utilize so many different parts of the body if you have muscles that are not strong enough to maintain your form or are too tight, this can cause pain after exercising. 

Take on too much too soon. 

Taking on too much too soon can also push your joints and muscles beyond their limits. For instance, if you go from not exercising at all to tackling barbell squats you are likely going to overdue it and push your body too far, resulting in pain and possibly an injury. Knowing your limits is an important part of eliminating pain from exercise.  

How to Deal with Back Pain from Lower Squats

If you find yourself experiencing back pain when performing lower squats, try one or all of the following to try and eliminate your discomfort.

Take a break. 

If you have strained a muscle or overdone it, a break may be all you need to give your body time to recover. When you start exercising again, take your time and make sure you slowly build up to your work out goals. 

Stretch and warm up thoroughly before exercising. 

Your joints, muscles and tendons need to be warmed up prior to any type of exercise. If tolerable, start with stretches and light jogging or a brisk walk for 10 – 15 minutes. This could be just the solution your body needs. 

Work with a physical trainer or certified specialist to check your form and load bearing. 

If your form is incorrect, you could actually be doing more harm than good. If you are unsure of your posture and positioning from start to finish, you need to consult with an expert. A certified physical trainer or other specialist can watch you perform your reps and help make corrections where needed. Several sessions of this type of help can ensure that you are consistently performing your squats correctly and possibly pain free. 

Consult with a medical professional. 

When in doubt, talk to a pain management specialist or other medical professional. The last thing you should do is try to “power through it” or experiment with any other exercises if you are experiencing consistent or acute pain. Your medical history, previous injuries, or underlying issues could all be contributing factors to your pain. You should not risk further injury by putting off seeking medical advice. Your physician will take a detailed medical history from you and perform a thorough exam to assess your current health. The most important part of an effective pain management solution for back pain is a correct diagnosis.

Your body is your temple and as you work to maintain it, you should not be forced to endure pain. Any amount of pain that goes beyond regular soreness is too much. Our office has professional pain management specialists that have dedicated their lives to improving the quality of life for others. We are here to listen, accurately diagnose and assist you in living your best, pain-free life. If you find yourself in pain after performing lower squats or any other exercise or movement, contact us or give us a call today.