Lower back pain after squats


  • Jan 28, 2014 4:39 PM GMT
    Obviously I'm going to go see a chiropractor/orthopedic doc about this but lo figured I'd throw it out and see if anyone had any input. 


    Back in December, I got done with a workout and realized I had wrenched my lower back when I was squatting. I went home, took a nice hot shower, and couldn't hardly walk for a day and a half.

    I took time off from the gym, and when I returned I decided I'd change my workout from back squats to front squats, and deloaded the weight in an attempt to fix my form. (So I went from squatting about 150 to front squatting about 100lbs)

    still, lower back pain.

    okay, maybe I've injured myself here, I thought, so I took it easy on myself for a little while again and when I returned to the gym I thought "OK, if I use the hack squat machine there's no way my back can be in improper form..."

    I get down to parallel and pain.

    The thing that gets me is that it almost doesn't feel like it's in my back. It's so low, down in between my hips, deep in my lumbar. I'm thinking it might be sciatic. I really don't know what else to do. I stretch before every workout and I don't even squat that heavy.

    any ideas? I seemed to have success yesterday using the leg press machine without having crazy back pain today.

    I can't tell if I had a disk bulging or maybe my lower back is just so much weaker than the rest of my body, now that I'm pushing myself I can really feel it. It does feel like the muscles are really tight when it hurts, and the pain is not in a super specific area like I'd expect if i had slipped a disk or something.
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    Jan 28, 2014 6:30 PM GMT
    I had the same problems for half a year. Pain coming back and then getting better. Finally, one day, when working on my calves i felt smth weird in the lower back but i still convinced myself to finish the workout. I managed to walk back to my place, nezt day in the morning i couldn't get out of bed. Literally.
    Had few exams and it tourned smth broke in my discus. So i did physioteraphy and after 2 months it was ok. More or less. I'm forbidden to do heavy squats or deadlifts. I'm lucky enough i can still work out. Might have been worse.
    Be wiser and get some check-up on that lower back. Otherwise,it might get more serious.
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    Jan 28, 2014 7:03 PM GMT
    I had a really bizarre struggle with first time low back pain last year. The book that I read that appears to be really well researched and eye opening was this one. http://www.amazon.com/Steps-Pain-Free-Back-Solutions-Shoulder/dp/0979303605/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390935143&sr=8-1&keywords=gokhale+back Its worth previewing it on Amazon to see if it appeals to you. The author says that back can get injured not just because of a particular incident but because the back is compromised by a series of bad habits. Similarly it can be repaired by proper habits. Of course it is not a replacement for a medical exam.

    If you do get the book I would caution to not just imitate the pictures like I did. Its necessary to read carefully before trying it out.

    Good luck.
  • DCEric

    Posts: 3713

    Jan 29, 2014 12:49 AM GMT
    I'd see the doctor. Unexplained pain is never happiness, and at worse she or he will tell you it is your form, and you need to have a trainer work with you on your technique.
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    Jan 29, 2014 6:34 AM GMT
    It is most likely your form; an easy way to check is ask someone to film you doing squats or consult with a trainer. I can assure you that it is not at all normal to experience this amount of pain while doing squats.

    This type of pain happened to me a few years ago when I was just learning to squat; my back was not completely straight and I was focused more on the weight I was lifting instead of proper form.

    Reference this video for fixing the hip drive when doing the squat.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yha2XAc2qu8&feature=player_embedded#at=11

    Lastly, I'm not a doctor but it may be that you have some other injury going on that is aggravated by a standard squat. I'm glad you're going to see a professional on this.

    Good luck!
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    Jan 29, 2014 7:01 AM GMT
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iEbvVwuBnzg

    Try this stretch. It's very specific so watch the full instructions, and if you choose to do it, do so at your own risk, if something doesn't feel right. Stop.
    Yadda yadda. Run it by your doc if you feel you should. I think it's great...I get pain in my sacral area (where you're describing) and this provides me with immediate spot relief.

    You an try foam rolling your glutes and piriformis as well. This works really well for me as well.

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=N9Qw4aAFdbc
  • dc415

    Posts: 255

    Jan 29, 2014 7:07 AM GMT
    Squats are probably still better for you than the machines, but you need to make sure your form isn't causing you problems. Do you have enough flexibility to squat without rounding your lower back?

    First, of course, you should get some scans from a doctor to make sure nothing's broken down there.

    And you're right, you're doing super light weights. At your body weight, 150 is not that heavy (you should be able to squat at least your body weight). If you're hurting even when you're trying to squat light weights something is seriously wrong.

    By the way I think front squats area actually harder on your back than back squats are... they require more flexibility to keep your back straight.
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    Jan 29, 2014 8:13 AM GMT
    What do you do for work?
    Biomechanically our bodies change over time as a result of the work we do. I have a few back issues that have stemmed from the job I've been doin for nearly 10 years.
    Basically our pelvis will either tilt forwards or backwards unless your posture is perfect (unlikely, no offence but no one has perfect posture) so as a consequence when you squat your pelvic tilt compromises your lumbar spine which can and most likely causes impingement of the nerves and discs in your lower back.
    So it comes down to flexibility. I have a slight forward tilt so my physio says and he's shown me my hip flexors are very tight as a result. Been stretching them 3 times a day for over 3 months now and my lumbar pain has greatly reduced and I can feel my posture is improving not that it was overly bad. Combined with core strengthening I can now squat again but not heavy weight.
    I'm not a bio mechanist or physio but it may be something for you to look at.

  • Jan 29, 2014 5:00 PM GMT
    dc415 saidSquats are probably still mostlybetter for you than the machines, but you need to make sure your form isn't causing you problems. Do you have enough flexibility to squat without rounding your lower back?

    First, of course, you should get some scans from a doctor to make sure nothing's broken down there.

    And you're right, you're doing super light weights. At your body weight, 150 is not that heavy (you should be able to squat at least your body weight). If you're hurting even when you're trying to squat light weights something is seriously wrong.

    By the way I think front squats area actually harder on your back than back squats are... they require more flexibility to keep your back straight.


    I know my form probably isn't the best.

    I don't have a spotter and therefore haven't ever maxed myself out, so I started off with light weights and basically just made it so that I was able to do working sets and add weight every time, unless I reach technical failure in my 3x5.

    So if I get 3x5 at whatever weight, I add a little bit. I mostly lift lighter because I was worried about injury, but it seems I've gone and done that anyway.
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    Jan 29, 2014 5:05 PM GMT
    Your transverse abdominis/lower abs are not firing properly.
    Could be a million reasons as to why it's not firing from imbalances , poor motor skills, inflammation in the gut..etc.

    Go get it checked to make sure there's no damage.
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    Feb 02, 2014 7:02 AM GMT
    Do you respect the curve of your back ?
    The back has to be straight with a curve.
  • roadbikeRob

    Posts: 14335

    Feb 04, 2014 9:09 PM GMT
    Are you using a weight lifting belticon_question.gif I am well aware that isn't the cure all to your lower back problems. Make sure that your form is correct and that you are using a belt while squatting. If back pain persists, than it is time to consult a doctor.
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    Feb 04, 2014 9:19 PM GMT
    Get a diagnosis from a professional healthcare practitioner. Until you do that, you (and everyone else here) are just guessing at the problem. You are making uninformed decisions until you get more information on exactly what is wrong.
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    Feb 04, 2014 9:49 PM GMT
    I have a lower back problem and I don't do free weight squats anymore, just on the hack squat machine. There is a padded support which helps big time.

    Also, I avoid deadlifts and prone lying leg curls - even though it shows my ass nicely when I curl haha.

    I take two cod liver oil vitamins a day too which work much better than Diclofenac.

    Keep your progress on here going bud, I'm sure you will combat your pain if you are careful.
    Take it easyicon_smile.gif
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    Feb 19, 2014 5:04 AM GMT
    I'd see a physician or physiotherapist (physical therapist) or a chiropractor, if you must. Sciatic pain usually isn't felt in the back (lumbar is still back). It refers to pain caused by impingement of the nerve either as it passes under the piriformis muscle in the buttocks or impingement higher up at the individual spinal nerves that cause pain to be transmitted down the sciatic nerve lower down. You usually get sciatic pain down in the buttocks down to the posterior thigh and depending on how much the nerve is irritated all the way down to the calf and foot. Usually, it isn't pain in the lumbar spine.

    It could be muscular strain, facet dysfunction, disc-related, etc. Getting it checked out is better than waiting it out and see because it is your back. Like some have said, it could have been caused be different things: form, repetitive microtrauma, a single macrotraumatic event, muscle imbalances, etc.
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    Feb 19, 2014 5:13 AM GMT
    Yeah, as a guy who squats a lot, and a pretty good amount of weight, I'll let you in on a secret: guys who squat a lot suffer injuries regularly, and go see chiropractors.

    I've got a great chiropractor. Just make sure you choose one who takes xrays, shows you them (make sure to wear a watch or something that designates to you that it is you! so they aint showin you someone else's slides) and find one that has a staff reflexologist and massage area. My clinic is big, and somewhat posh. But they got all that stuff and its top rate.

    Impingements happen for all kinds of reasons. You could be going below parallel, or maybe coming up you have leaned forward. Don't take much to move a disk. If you move one even so slightly, you can definitely hit nerve centers that are normally untouched. A realignment will bring you a lot of joy. But be very careful after it gets better, its likely to move again. Recommendations : use the sled and hack squat hammer strength machines for a while to give you support. and if possible, get a spotter who knows when you're moving forward or below parallel and will call you on it.
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    Mar 05, 2014 2:42 PM GMT
    Hey guys
    I have the same issue. I was working out chest one day and went to the dumbbells place and when i reached to get my hands on some it happened right there *crack* in the very low area of my back, the pain was too great so i left immediately. I didn't go to gym after for 2 weeks (felt shitty) and now that i'm back, and went for my squats...BAM ! It's back again and it's even greater
    My gym owner said it's due to lack of enough warm up. I really dont wanna stop going icon_sad.gif and this time looks like it'll take me more time to heal. Help ?