Injuries during intensive activities in the gym are frequent and are understandable, considering that you are essentially pushing your body to the physical limit in order to work your muscles and tire them out. Its only natural for a muscle to be pulled, ruptured or even break during a gruelling gym session.
Which is why lower back pain after squats is a common affliction, especially for people who like to lift weights and/ or prefer exercises involving the lower back a little too much. Lower back pain during squats is equally common; common reasons aside, if you are a newbie just starting to work out, you will have those injuries. Lets get into it a little bit more and see for ourselves why and how you can hurt your lower back while squatting, and what you should do to keep the damage at a minimum.
But before we get into that, why are squats responsible for wreaking so much havoc? If you aren’t aware of the particulars and the basics of squats, we’ll start off with those.
Why Should You Squat at The Gym?
Anybody who’s ever been to the gym will tell you: start with squats. And not exercise, but warm up with them. And that is because, squats engage and exercise the biggest and largest muscles in the body; those on your thighs, all the while also exercising the lower abdomen and the back muscles as well. If done right, squats can help keep both your skeletal system (knees and associated joints) and the muscular system (lower abdomen, lower back and thigh) engaged and warmed up during the entire duration of the gym.
Squats are also considered a good exercise for warming up, because they simultaneously work the lower body and the upper body. Couple them up with jumping jacks or other exercises that work the upper body equally, and you can get an idea as to why squats are considered so essential for workout routines all across the gym.
The Most Common Squatting Injuries
As you can imagine, this ‘squats hurt my back’ argument is pretty common, because, well, squats, if not done right, can leave a whole lot of more damage than just hurting your back. That is because during a squat, you put your whole body pivot on your knees, with the weight being balanced on your thighs and feet. This puts a lot of strain on both your thighs and your knees; and there have been many instances reported of thigh muscles being pulled or knees snapping and cracking. Obviously, all of this can be avoided with the right diet and the right way to warm up: that is, start low, and rev it up high as soon as your body gets warmed up and the motion feels natural.
Some common injuries include,
- Pulled thigh muscle
- Cramps in the lower back, thighs
- Ruptured knee tendons
- Joint pain (knee)
- Injuries in the groin area
All of these injuries, as mentioned before, can be avoided with a diet that includes all the necessary minerals and elements (since they help with contraction and expansion of muscle and build and repair bones) and proper warm up procedure, which includes starting slow.
Variations of Squats
There are many variations of squats that you can do, several of which are mentioned here, alongside a quick note of how to do it.
Extend your arms forward. Standing upright, start bending your knees outwards and get to a position where your thighs are parallel to the ground. Repeat.
This is the easier one, since you have some support. The same as before, but you can lean against a wall and do the same. Much better for people just starting out.
Don’t be intimidated by the name; its just the simple squat but with your hands behind your head, fingers interlaced. Repeat as a simple squat.
Start by standing upright. Raise you right leg up and start bending your left knee until your right leg is parallel to the ground. Repeat with the sides switched.
Same as before, but only you stand with your legs apart much wider than your chest. Bring the knees to a bend until they protrude from the legs. Repeat.
Although there are many more, this would run several pages if we tried to list all of them. But here’s the point: the basic of a squat is that you bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground. The rest are all variations and can be modified as per the requirement.
Common causes of squat injuries
As we’ve already covered it, the most common cause of a squat injury is the improper procedure of actually doing so. Considering that the simple squat is in itself a very strenuous exercise and really works the whole lower body, doing it improperly can result in some pretty nasty injuries.
So, the first and most common cause of squat injuries is the improper execution of the squat. This can result in some mild injuries, like a pulled muscle, slight pain in the knee joint, or pain in the lower abdomen or groin area. Or, it can lead to muscle rupture or severe cramps, and has also been reported to have caused testicular torsion in men performing this exercise with the wrong procedure.
The second most common cause is mineral/ vitamin deficiency which can cause issues like muscle cramps, osteomyelitis and the softening of the bones, which negatively affect the knee joint. Elements like potassium and sodium are responsible for water retention in muscles, and it is their concentration which helps the muscles move, and their absence can cause muscle pains and cramps.
How to Prevent Lower Back Pain After Squats
The number one tip you can get from professionals and regular gym members is this: do it properly, or don’t do it at all. Considering the incredible strain a squat puts on your thighs, lower abdomen and lower back, it is imperative that a squat be done properly; the dangers to your health are far too much should you not do it properly.
Warming up is always the best start to squat. Because squats chiefly engage the lower body and its muscles, a quick jog and little jumping jacks always help; stretching your legs beforehand can allow the muscles and the knee joints to be warmed up before that. Again, the rule that should be followed with warming up is that start slow, end fast. Which means that you go in slow and give your body much rest, and then towards the end, the pace should be much faster.
Starting to Squat
For a simple squat, you can start by extending both your hands forward. Relax your body and stand with legs at shoulder width. Make sure that you have warmed up beforehand and that your legs aren’t hurting or the knee joint isn’t paining.
Once that is sure, start by slowly bending your knees forward and get your whole body down; stop once your thighs are completely parallel to the ground, the knees are sticking outward at a maximum angle, and you are nearly in a sitting posture. Once there, slowly start to get up; bring your knees and legs back to their original position and stand upright once again, hands still stretched outwards.
This is the complete guide on how to perform a squat.
The spine is one of the most crucial bone segments of the body. It is what gives the body its posture and contains the brain stem. Forcing it into long periods of ill-posture can result in its deformation, which could result in the overall deformation of the body posture itself. Which is why during squats, it is very important that you keep your back straight and not arched; neither backwards nor forward.
This will ensure that your spinal alignment is correct throughout the whole procedure; and if you need help with keeping your back straight during the entire gym exercise, you can get a back brace or a back support belt which will help you maintain a good spinal alignment to ensure that you don’t get back pain or lower back pain after doing squats.
Joint mobility is yet another aspect of squats that is very fundamental, considering that you are pivoting the weight of your entire body on to both of your knees, and they have to bear the brunt while performing under duress. Joint mobility means how better is the knee joint able to perform under conditions such as squatting, where the entire weight of your body is being rested on the joint.
Joints require lubrication and strength from the two bones that form it; lubrication is a natural process and the body does it itself. However, bone strength and density is equally important, and it is imperative that you consume good amounts of calcium and protein to make sure that your bones get the nourishment they need.
What to Do When Back Pains Due to Squats Arise?
The first thing to bear in mind is that no set, no rep, no exercise is greater than your wellbeing, and so, at the first sign of trouble, don’t do two more squats just to make sure what you heard was a joint crunch. Stop immediately and get some rest. If you have a muscular issue or an issue with the joint, cease all squats and sit down at a chair to inspect what has gone wrong. If it’s a muscular issue, you will feel pain radiating from your thighs and emanating down to your knee. If its an issue with the knee, it will pain there. Here’s how treatments for some common issues including back pain from squats can be treated.
There are basically two ways you can go about tending to an injury; apply a heat pack or an ice pack. In this instance, many professionals and sport doctors recommend applying heat. This is because with heat, muscles tend to expand, and when you have muscles as dense as those present in the thighs or in the lower abdomen including the back, its always better to let them expand and relax in their natural state, as it helps them recuperate much quicker and without doing much damage.
Secondly, applying heat to a muscle that is already worked out saves it from going into shock; imagine the muscle working hard and releasing a lot of heat, only for you to smother it with an ice pack. It will immediately contract and cause more pain; and so, you need to make sure that the already worked-up muscle isn’t exposed to extreme temperatures immediately after sustaining an injury.
Wearing The Proper Footwear With Ample Ankle Support
Footwear is absolutely important. Just like running shoes and sports shoes (basketball, football), joggers or shoes with proper ankle support are necessary for performing squats, or for general workout in the gym. That is because no matter how well-practiced you are, or how athletic you are, pushing your body to its limits is always risky and with that risk present, you are going to want to give it the maximum support possible.
Also Read: How Can Poor Posture Result in Back Pain?
Improving Flexibility And Core Strength
One of the more long-term options to combat such an injury is to improve your flexibility and core strength. Improving your flexibility will allow for more torsion to be there in your muscles and joints, and thus, more tolerant to wear and tear that is consistent with exercise.
Plus core strength will ensure that you don’t work up too much damage in the body. Consulting a medical professional: As a last resort and if the problems persist, you can always consult a medical professional. It is better to have a medical opinion on board, because it might not always be sports injury, it could be an underlying matter that could be much more problematic later on.
List of Commonly Asked Questions and Answers on a Website About Topics “Lower back Pain After Squats”
Q1. How to Treat Lower Back Pain After Squats?
The most common treatment for lower back pain after squats is rest, heat packs and proper exercise. Rest is most commonly advised; since the damage isn’t too severe and permanent, just a day of rest can do wonders for the lower back pain. You can also use heat packs, massage it and consume pain-killers to ensure that the pain does not exceed the tolerance threshold.
Q2. What Causes Lower Back Pain After Heavy Squats?
The most common causes of lower back pain after heavy squats or exercise include improper exercise, squatting with an improper posture and putting too much weight on the lower back while squatting.
As you are aware, squatting puts a lot of pressure on the upper legs and the lower body, and the lower abdomen and back can be affected severely if the squat isn’t done right. Make sure to learn and properly do these squats; failure to adhere with the proper requirements can be very painful.
Q3. Why Does My Lower Back Hurt With Squats?
‘Lower back hurts with squats’ are probably due to an improper way of doing squats, or not warming up prior to doing squats. Back pain may also surface if your posture during the exercise is incorrect, which could take a toll on the material integrity of the spine.
Always make sure to properly support your lower back and other prone-to-damage areas prior to getting into such vigorous exercises.