Squatting is an extremely effective exercise, and many people love that it can be done anywhere without equipment or make use of things like weights, depending on your goals. However, athletes will know that squatting requires proper form, and without it, you can injure yourself. Lower back pain after squats is common in these cases but can still be cause for concern. If you notice symptoms after squatting, it can be helpful to seek back pain treatment and understand how to prevent the problem from occurring again so that you can continue exercising safely.
Benefits of Squatting
While doing so incorrectly can cause back pain, squatting itself is an extremely beneficial form of exercise. Athletes of every sort use the technique as a part of their training and workouts because squatting has been shown to positively impact your body’s power, making it easier to overcome resistance with speed. Having good squatting strength can lead to greater power and, therefore, can increase things like sprint speed.
Even for people who aren’t professional athletes, including squats in a training plan can be valuable. Benefits might include:
- Increased flexibility. Big movements performed under load can improve strength as well as range of motion in joints.
- Heightened core strength. A squat done properly will require all major muscles in the body to work together. The deep stabilizing muscles keep your body steady and balanced, which improves core strength over time.
- Injury prevention. Squats work all of the leg muscles at once, creating excellent synchronization throughout the body. This can make the body more stable overall, lessening the risk of injury.
Injuries from Squatting
A squat performed properly is unlikely to cause injuries. However, the spine is vulnerable during a squat, which can cause pain. There are several reasons this can happen:
- Previous injuries to the lower back becoming exacerbated
- Poor squatting technique
- Weak core and surrounding muscles
- Tight muscles and a limited range of motion in the joints
- Weak ankle muscles
- Incorrect or improperly fitted footwear with inadequate arch support
- Progressing weight or loading too quickly during squats
Preventing Back Pain When Squatting
If you notice back pain during squats, there are some simple things you can do to troubleshoot and prevent this from happening in the future.
Squat variations: It’s critical to choose the correct squat variation for you. If you’re new to the practice, goblet or front squats may be easier to learn, while barbell back squats are more advanced and more likely to cause injury.
Starting position: When beginning a squat, your feet should always be facing forward to protect your hips and knees. If your feet are at an angle, it can impact your form and lead to back pain or even arches collapsing.
Spinal alignment: Maintaining a straight-ahead or upward gaze during squatting can prevent you from leaning forward and placing stress on the spine. Only squat as far as you can while feeling in control and maintaining this form. Squatting too deeply can be detrimental, and form is more important than depth.
Joint mobility: Ankle mobility is key to the balance and control necessary for a squat. If the ankle is compromised, your feet could lift off the floor, forcing you to compensate in other areas, leading to strain and injuries. Only squat as far as you can skillfully, and work on ankle flexibility outside of the squat.
Warmups: Using proper and effective warmups can be key to ensuring that your body is ready for the stress of a squat. Priming each muscle individually can be important, so you may start with glute work, then do some planks to activate the core, and finish off with stretching and range of motion exercises. If you use a personal trainer, they can assist in creating these routines.
How to Manage Back Pain From Squats
Will lower back pain go away on its own? If you have implemented these tips and still experience back pain, there may be underlying factors at play. Existing injuries or even misalignments you didn’t know about could be causing pain and, without proper treatment, may worsen and lead to chronic conditions.
A physical therapist will be able to evaluate your form in addition to your spinal health and advise whether there is a problem. They may also consult chiropractors and orthopedic doctors to help make a diagnosis where applicable and create treatment plans that address any root causes of your pain.
At AICA Atlanta, we are primarily concerned with your spinal health and ability to keep moving freely, including exercises like squats. Contact us today to see a specialist and protect your spine.