Addressing Low Back Pain while Performing a Squat (Weighted or Unweighted)
Athletes around the world regularly perform weighted squats. Research has shown that squatting has a direct impact on your body’s power, which is the ability to overcome a resistance with speed (Loxtercamp, 2018). Therefore, squatting can result in great power and an increase in sprint speed. General benefits include increased flexibility, greater core strength, as well as protection from injury as a result of better coordination of the body.
However, squats have been known to cause unwanted low back soreness. Although squatting will work the muscles of the lower back, if the low back becomes the most targeted region during the squat, chronic soreness and overuse injury can occur. Previous injury to the lower back, poor technique, as well as weakness of the core or surrounding muscles can contribute to this overuse of the back muscles (Gordon & Bloxham, 2016). Barbell back squats are also the most common for causing back pain as the weight is loaded across the back (Loxtercamp, 2018). If you find this movement difficult, but still want to add weight to your squats, you may want to opt for goblet squats or front squats.
- Proper footwear
- Progressing weight/load too quickly when squatting
- Correct stance and posture
- Spinal alignment
- Ensure you’re looking straight ahead or an upward gaze
- Joint mobility
- Ex. Activating your glutes
If you have any pain during exercises, or are unsure about what you are doing, please consult your local physiotherapist before continuing.
Gordon, R., & Bloxham, S. (2016). A systematic review of the effects of exercise and physical activity on non-specific chronic low back pain. Healthcare. 4(2). doi:10.3390/healthcare4020022
Loxtercamp, B. (2018). Influence of attentional focus on a weighted barbell back squat among experienced performers. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 50(1). doi:10.1248/01.mss.0000536504.18312.43