Squats, Back Pain....

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 26, 2011 4:01 AM GMT
    It seems that there are 500 videos on how to do the "perfect" squat. All of them seem similar to me but then the comments are all a bunch of people arguing about what's right and what's wrong. What gives? Is there such a thing as a perfect squat?

    I do them primarily with my trainer, and most of the time there are no problems. I did them alone yesterday with the smith machine (I dont like squatting on my own - the smith machine feels more stable) and now my lower back has been bugging me, and it got worse today after my workout.... this has happened several times.

    Is there anyone here who has abandoned the squat in favor of other exercises? I know its an important one.... but there's got to be something that is less taxing on your lower back. I cant seem to figure out why I get pain sometimes, and why other times I do not. I dont lift particularly heavy. I watch my form, my trainer watches my form.....

    Anyone else have this issue??
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    Jul 26, 2011 4:59 AM GMT
    Are you using the smith machine when you're with your trainer?
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    Jul 26, 2011 5:37 AM GMT
    Using the Smith machine for squats has its pros and cons. But mostly cons. If you don't align your body to match up perfectly with the path of movement of the Smith, then you're gonna feel some discomfort in your knees. Since your lower back is causing you some pain, it sounds like you're pushing the weight up with your upper body instead of with your legs.

    Forget the Smith machine. Use free weights, but load the barbell with a few less plates than you normally use with your trainer. You need to be able to do squats on your own. Are you planning to use a trainer forever?

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    Jul 26, 2011 6:06 AM GMT
    Questions:

    • How much weight are you pushing on the barbell with your trainer?
    • How much weight are you lifting on the Smith Machine?
    • Are you going to complete failure?
    • Are you using a weight belt when you do squats?
    • Are you doing dead lifts also?
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    Jul 26, 2011 6:13 AM GMT
    OMG this just happened to me too.
    It's stupid. I've been doing squats since I've been 17, but somehow I wasn't focused last week or something and felt some pain in my lower back afterwards.
    I got checked out by a doctor, and he said it's just a strain. So now I have pain killlers and muscle relaxers should I need them.
    The doctor told me to continue exercising.

    Like xrich said, you're better off leaving the Smith machine alone.
    On quad days I alternate between the squat and the leg press.
  • dc415

    Posts: 255

    Jul 26, 2011 7:55 AM GMT
    xrichx is right... the smith machine is more dangerous because it restricts you to an unnatural range of motion. most important thing is to have correct form...
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    Jul 26, 2011 8:57 AM GMT
    I stopped squats when my left ACL started to go loose on me - I do leg press instead. I do think the squat is more intense and more of a full body workout, but if you have knee or back trouble etc. leg press is a good substitute.
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    Jul 26, 2011 9:00 AM GMT
    Low, relatively light squats are fantastic. I don´t like the smith machine either.. I prefer to keep squatting though... you get many of the benefits even if you go light.
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    Jul 26, 2011 11:24 AM GMT
    Maybe do some Smith machine squats with your trainer to make sure you're doing it properly. I can do them on the Smith without getting any pain, however like others have already mentioned you gotta make sure you're aligned with the machine. But if they keep bugging you, I'd suggest talking to your trainer about alternatives that work better for you.

    That's what I do with mine when I have difficulty with a particular exercise.
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    Jul 26, 2011 12:23 PM GMT
    Being 6"2 and lean I found squats awkward same with deadlifting. It seems the shorter you are the easier they are to perform without losing the tecnique required to do them. Try fitball squats with dumbbells at least your back is protected to a degree, lunging also works for me. No back pain since I started doing these instead. Good luck mate.
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    Jul 26, 2011 12:27 PM GMT
    ZbmwM5 saidIs there anyone here who has abandoned the squat in favor of other exercises?
    After two herniated disks last year, yeah. They weren't caused from squats, but I eliminated almost all load bearing stand-up exercises just to be on the safe side (was squatting 235 lbs and shrugging 240 and leg-pressing ~600).

    Now I do weightless one-legged squats with an exercise ball, and weightless lunges...still developing plenty of leg strength and size to keep proportional.
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    Jul 26, 2011 1:06 PM GMT
    Try front squats or Bulgarian split squats. These two exercises are more friendly on your lower back. To get the form right and get the explosiveness without putting too much stress on your back, I recommend squat jumps with no weight or only ankle weights.


    He's hot. But his voice....*SMH*



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    Jul 26, 2011 1:08 PM GMT
    Scruffypup saidQuestions:


    • How much weight are you pushing on the barbell with your trainer?
    135-155 lbs (haha... not heavy)

    • How much weight are you lifting on the Smith Machine?
    Around 155

    • Are you going to complete failure?
    Nope

    • Are you using a weight belt when you do squats?
    No
    • Are you doing dead lifts also?
    Yes, but usually separately (ie, separate days)

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    Jul 26, 2011 1:11 PM GMT
    Ive read a bunch of articles about the worst machines in the gym. The Smith machine is always on the list.
  • DanOmatic

    Posts: 1155

    Jul 26, 2011 1:16 PM GMT
    Most guys at the gym load on too many weights to do squats properly. It's more about form than the amount of weight you put on there.

    Ditch the smith machine and do squats with the bar. Start off light and focus on form. Add weight as long as it doesn't compromise good form. Totally disregard what the meatheads are doing. They'll blow out their knees eventually.
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    Jul 27, 2011 2:58 AM GMT
    ZbmwM5 said
    Scruffypup saidQuestions:


    • How much weight are you pushing on the barbell with your trainer?
    135-155 lbs (haha... not heavy)

    • How much weight are you lifting on the Smith Machine?
    Around 155

    • Are you going to complete failure?
    Nope

    • Are you using a weight belt when you do squats?
    No
    • Are you doing dead lifts also?
    Yes, but usually separately (ie, separate days)




    You have a slender body type. I'm guessing the reason you're having back pain is because you're not using a belt. You're tall and slim, and you need a belt more than anyone. I realize you're not lifting extremely heavy, but anything over 95 pounds can cause you to strain to one side or the other when you get tired. A good weight belt will save you a lot of pain and help keep you injury free. Do NOT get a cheap belt from a sporting goods store. They can cause you more harm than good. They're a little pricey, but it will last a lifetime. I paid 60 bucks for mine but they're on sale now for 35! Go here: http://shop.myhousesportsgearonline.com/index.php/gear/weight-lifting-gear-2/weight-lifting-belt-single-prong.html

    Here's a good article about when to use a belt: http://www.criticalbench.com/weightlifting-belts.htm
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    Jul 27, 2011 2:59 AM GMT
    NC3athlete saidMost guys at the gym load on too many weights to do squats properly. It's more about form than the amount of weight you put on there.

    Ditch the smith machine and do squats with the bar. Start off light and focus on form. Add weight as long as it doesn't compromise good form. Totally disregard what the meatheads are doing. They'll blow out their knees eventually.



    You're so right!
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    Jul 27, 2011 3:00 AM GMT
    There are so many other types of leg exercises out there that I've had a few personal trainers say there's no need for them.


    And especially if you can't do them without hurting yourself - why do it? I have some bad knee problems (getting MRI on monday yay! and then maybe knee surgery on both knee's boo!) and the personal trainer at my gym showed me a ton of exercises that are really easy on my knees.

    I'm sure a personal trainer can give you a ton of exercises that will relieve that back pain while still giving you a good workout.
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    Jul 27, 2011 3:04 AM GMT
    Here's another type of squat you might want to consider. Grab a moderately heavy dumbbell and hold it with both hands in front of you. Keep your back naturally straight. And then proceed to do your squats.

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  • groundcombat

    Posts: 945

    Jul 27, 2011 3:19 AM GMT
    I may give front squats a shot after reading this thread but I usually just disregard squats altogether. I don't claim to have the perfect form but in my experience the "risk v reward" is a poor trade. All it takes is one brain fart to blow out a knee or throw out your back. I just load up the leg press and do lunges instead.

    I also suspect that the perfect squat is more/less difficult to achieve depending on your body proportions. I think those of us who are "mostly legs" have a tougher time getting it right than others with a lot of torso but that's just me speculating.
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    Jul 27, 2011 5:11 AM GMT
    NC3athlete saidMost guys at the gym load on too many weights to do squats properly. It's more about form than the amount of weight you put on there.

    Ditch the smith machine and do squats with the bar. Start off light and focus on form. Add weight as long as it doesn't compromise good form. Totally disregard what the meatheads are doing. They'll blow out their knees eventually.



    You're so right!
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    Jul 27, 2011 5:16 AM GMT
    Defenseon saidThere are so many other types of leg exercises out there that I've had a few personal trainers say there's no need for them.


    And especially if you can't do them without hurting yourself - why do it? I have some bad knee problems (getting MRI on monday yay! and then maybe knee surgery on both knee's boo!) and the personal trainer at my gym showed me a ton of exercises that are really easy on my knees.

    I'm sure a personal trainer can give you a ton of exercises that will relieve that back pain while still giving you a good workout.



    No personal trainer worth his salt would ever say there is no need for squats! Now he may have said that to you to make you feel better since you can't do them right now, but there is no exercise that can duplicate the results you'll get from doing squats! Of course if you have an injury that prevents you from doing them, then you will be forced to go to a leg press machine or something of that nature, but no use in altering the facts.