Back Pain After Squats: Why It Happens and What to Do About It

A weightlifter grabs his back while suffering from back pain after squats

You’ve just finished an intense round of squats; in fact, you just broke your PR and managed to squat the heaviest amount of weight you’ve ever attempted. You’re feeling proud and accomplished when suddenly, you feel a sharp, persistent pain in your back that seems determined to dampen your progress.

If this hits home, you aren’t alone. Back pain after squats is a common ailment that affects many weightlifters, including athletes and fitness-conscious individuals. However, there are solutions that can prevent future injuries from occurring. 

Explore the causes of back pain after squats, the importance of proper form, and how working with an expert chiropractor can eliminate back pain and improve your squat form.

How a Chiropractor Can Resolve Back Pain After Squats

Chiropractors specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, including those related to the spine. Their expertise in assessing spinal alignment, mobility, and overall function can help identify any misalignments or dysfunctions contributing to your back pain after squatting.

Chiropractors provide some of the following treatment options to alleviate back pain after squats and address underlying conditions that may contribute to the pain.

Chiropractic Treatments for Back Pain After Squats
Method Description Benefits
Spinal Adjustments Manual manipulation of the spine to restore proper alignment. Chiropractors accomplish this via the use of gentle, controlled force applied with precision to specific spinal joints.
  • Reduces pain and inflammation
  • Restores spinal alignment
  • Improves joint mobility
  • Improves spinal function
Massage Therapy Techniques such as myofascial release and trigger point therapy address muscle tension, adhesions, sprains, and soft tissue restrictions around the spine
  • Relives muscle tension, pain, and spasms
  • Improves flexibility and range of motion
  • Improves circulation
  • Accelerates the healing of soft tissue injuries
Postural Exercisesh Exercises and stretches designed to naturally improve posture, strength, stability, and flexibility of the spine and supporting muscles 
  • Promotes muscle balance and core stability
  • Improves natural posture 
  • Supports proper squat mechanics and improves form
  • Prevents future injuries 
Postural Correctionh Evaluating and correcting postural imbalances that contribute to back pain and other factors that impact squats 
  • Reduces strain and pressure on the spine
  • Enhances spinal alignment 
  • Minimizes repetitive stress injuries
  • Improves overall posture and spinal health, preventing back pain

A chiropractor may implement one or more of these treatment options to improve your spine and posture, allowing you to become better at squatting. However, the most impactful approaches are rooted in a comprehensive assessment of your spinal health and a thorough understanding of any possible underlying conditions that may be contributing to your back pain after squats. 

By taking these into account, the best chiropractors can develop tailored strategies that address the root causes of your discomfort, leading to more effective and personalized treatment outcomes.

Why Do I Have Back Pain After Squats?

Squats involve mechanics that directly rely on the spine and impact its well-being. The spine already bears the weight of your body, and squats, especially those done with heavy weights, place considerable stress on the spine. 

Let’s dive into the interplay between squats and the spine to help you better understand the importance of the spine for this exercise. 

  • Load distribution: Squats, especially those performed with dumbbells or a barbell, impose a significant load on the musculoskeletal system. As you descend into a squat, your spine supports the weight and transfers it through the vertebrae, discs, and muscles, ensuring the forces are evenly distributed.
  • Spinal stability: The spine provides a stable base for squat movements, allowing you to generate force and maintain proper form. The deep core muscles, including the transversus abdominis and multifidus, work with the spine to provide stability, prevent excessive movement, and protect against potential injuries.
  • Alignment and posture: Correct spinal alignment ensures even force distribution, reducing the risk of strain or injury. Maintaining a neutral spine, with gentle curves in the lower back (lumbar spine) and upper back (thoracic spine), optimizes load distribution and minimizes stress on individual vertebrae.
  • Range of motion: The spine requires sufficient mobility during squats; it must flex and extend to accommodate the movement, allowing your hips and knees to bend and lower your body. This coordinated mobility ensures the load is appropriately distributed and shared by the surrounding structures, such as the hip joints and leg muscles.
  • Core activation: Engaging your core muscles is paramount during squats. A strong core stabilizes the spine, reduces excessive stress, and helps maintain proper alignment. Activating deep abdominal muscles and other stabilizers establishes a solid foundation for the spine, preventing strain and promoting optimal squatting mechanics.

Issues with one or more of these factors can limit the safety and effectiveness of your squats, manifesting in the following ways:

Causes of Back Pain After Squats
Cause Why It Happensh
Poor Form Incorrect squat technique, often caused by spinal misalignments or poor posture, can lead to back pain, discomfort, and potential injury. Rounding the back or excessive arching can place excessive strain on the spine and surrounding muscles.
Weak Core Muscles The core muscles, including the abdominals, obliques, and deep stabilizers, stabilize the spine and support proper squat mechanics. The back may bear an excessive load if the core is weak or not effectively engaged, leading to pain and discomfort.
Muscle Imbalances If the muscles in the front of the body, such as the quadriceps, are significantly stronger than the back muscles, excessive stress can be placed on the back during squats, causing pain and discomfort.
Disc Herniation A herniated disc occurs when the soft inner core of the spinal disc protrudes through its outer layer. This can be caused by increased pressure or uneven weight distribution, leading to nerve compression and back pain.
Facet Joint Dysfunction Facet joints are the small, paired joints at the back of the vertebra that connect the individual bones in the spine. When irritated, facets can interfere with the execution of squats by limiting the natural range of motion, lowering stability, and making it difficult to maintain proper form.

Back pain after squats can be caused by various factors that can often be mutually reinforcing. This is why it’s important to consult with a professional who is equipped to improve your technique, provide personalized recommendations, and identify and treat underlying issues that may be contributing to your back pain.

Resolve Your Back Pain and Improve Your Squat Form With PostureWorks

At PostureWorks, we’re not interested in just addressing your pain; we want to eliminate it at the source. We also want to improve your weightlifting form, not just to protect you from future injury but to make your squats safer and more powerful. 

That’s why we use revolutionary treatment strategies like Chiropractic BioPhysics® to delve deep into the causes of your back pain. Through a comprehensive analysis of your spine’s curvature, posture, and medical history, we unravel why you’re experiencing back pain in the first place. 

Using this information, we develop a personalized treatment plan that may include chiropractic adjustments, postural exercises, neuromuscular reeducation, spinal alignment traction, and massage therapy. That way, you’ll enjoy long-term relief from back pain while staying healthy and active.

Contact us today if you’re experiencing back pain after squats or to schedule your appointment with PostureWorks in Lakewood, CO.

Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, painless, and non-invasive.

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