Why Squats Can Cause Lower Back Pain and How to Avoid It

Squats are among the most complex and physically demanding exercises that you can incorporate into your workout program. They’re also among the most sensitive because if done without mastery of its proper techniques and concern for your physical capacity, they could be the cause for potentially severe damage to your lower back pain. Even at its mildest, such lower back pain can keep you away from the gym for a couple of days or force you to turn your whole workout cycle around.

Here’s why squats are considered essential in the first place.

The Benefits of Squatting

The main reason any of us hit the gym is to get into good shape in order to feel better and more confident about how we look, right? You have probably seen someone who does squats on the regular, and the effects of that are instantly detectable. Squatting has a myriad of other benefits beyond a nice, rounded-up thigh, though, as highly coveted as this sort of physique might be to most of us. The benefits of squats extend to the whole body.

We know that testosterone is crucial when it comes to muscle-building, and squat exercises are particularly effective at pushing up the rates at which your body releases testosterone, thus making your other workouts substantially more effective on the long run. In addition to the hormonal release, your joint range and muscle length are two major determinants of how well you get to perform at the gym, and, in turn, the degree of change you can bring to your physique.

The wide range of motion used in squats and the way they force you to push your body to its limits can work wonders in terms of increasing your flexibility. It also serves to boost your core strength, which is also crucial to your performance at the gym.

Add to all of this the fact that that squatting trains enough muscles in the body, including all of your leg muscles, so that someone who’s running on a tight schedule yet eager to maintain a well-built physique can resort to doing a few variants of squatting and that might very well be sufficient.

Such body synchronization would additionally provide you with higher stamina and less proneness to injury. Last but not least, good, properly-performed squats are a good way for you to give your gym props a boost. We all have this small hint of vanity in us that seeks that, albeit at different rates of intensity.

As we mentioned above, though, these benefits do not come without risk, especially for your lower back. There are several factors that if not watched out for can bring about some serious lower back pain.

The Factors for Lower Back Pain

If you already suffer from lower back pain, then you, obviously, are more prone to experiencing pain while squatting. That is not necessarily the case, however, if you make sure that you have got a good grasp on the proper techniques, in which case, squatting can actually be quite an effective remedy for your already-existing back pain. A physician’s advice would be highly recommended here, though.

Since we mentioned techniques more than once, it must be pointed out how crucial this is to the avoidance of lower back pain from squats. It would not merely minimize your results, but would rather be detrimental to your body. Before raising your weights, you need to first make sure the techniques you’re using are all performed properly, and then the weight progression has to be made very gradual in order not to overburden your core and thus cause yourself severe pain. The strength of your core, as well as your muscle length and joint range which we mentioned above, need to be cautiously and very gradually expanded first.

Let’s now dissect the basic squat movement in order to point out how exactly the damage can occur and, in turn, how to avoid such damage.

A Closer Look

A squat consists of two main movements; descent and ascent. The first one is responsible for maximal hip and knee flexion. Ascent, on the other hand, causes hip and knee extension. As you move downward, your hamstrings are lengthened at the hip joint and shortened at the knee joint. You also place a load on your back muscles in order to maintain that upright torso posture that you should keep at all times during a squat. Here’s the first element to watch out for. If you don’t take care that your abs and lats are in proper form during squats, that means that they are braced or “fired,” you’ll end up rounding your back which will inevitably lead to back pain.

The depth of the squat is perhaps the most critical aspect of it all. Many trainers and amateurs alike promote deep squats, or “ass to grass” as they’re widely known, as the ultimate way to do squat exercises. That cannot be further from the truth. Such advice can actually be quite dangerous. The fact that not all bodies are built the same way cannot be stressed enough. When considering how deep you should go with your squats this should be decided based on your own particular case and how much depth your body can take.

That is not to say that you should make a half-assed effort and expect the results you wish for. You should always be pushing your body to its limits, but not way beyond that. Let these limits be pushed further but do it gradually. The hip is a key factor here. Some hips can go parallel and below, but others can only squat to slightly above parallel before you start struggling and if you press beyond that you would be risking severe damage to your knees, spine, and most of all, your back. 

To wrap all of this up, what do you need to do to in order to avoid experiencing back pain after your squats?

Avoiding Lower Back Pain

First and foremost, you absolutely have to pay great attention to the details of squatting techniques and make sure you master them before you start lifting heavy. In addition to that, you must know your body, realize its limits, and squat accordingly.

Finally, if you do some stretches before your squats, you can ensure that your body is ready to take the squatting pressure, and since your core is key to a proper and safe squat, you can put in some planks, side planks, and anti-rotation presses in order to strengthen it.


Lower Back Pain from Squats: Why this Happens and How to Avoid it. (2017, March 17). Retrieved from https://www.capitalphysio.com/fitness/lower-back-pain-from-squats-why-this-happens-and-how-to-avoid-it/

How to Eliminate a Sore Lower Back From Squats. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/509231-a-lower-back-sore-after-squats/

Lower Back Pain After Squats: Here's Why And How To Prevent It. (2018, February 26). Retrieved from https://www.menshealth.com.sg/fitness/lower-back-pain-after-squats-how-to-prevent/