Why Do I Get Lower Back Pain When Squatting?

The squat is a popular exercise with many benefits. However, it is often associated with lower back pain. Fortunately, there are logical reasons why this pain exists. And even better – there are ways to prevent and fix it!

Is the squat the only exercise you hate because of the lower back pain it causes you? Continue reading. This article is for you!

Your lumbar spine may be sensitive to pain during or after squatting. Yet this is not a mystery. Below are some of the causes of this back pain and what you can do about it.

How to Avoid Back Pain When Squatting?

One of the best exercises to do for strength, muscle, and burning fat is even the best squat. However, there are many people who do not do the exercise correctly. This is usually due to the sedentary lifestyle many people live, which results in tight and weak muscles. If the squat is done incorrectly for a long period of time, it can lead to muscle compensations and chronic conditions such as lower back pain. Since Americans already suffer a lot from this disease, let’s look at two common ways squatting can cause lower back pain.

Squatting can cause lower back pain when the neutral curve in our back is not maintained throughout the movement. A clear sign of this is rounding of the back and a loss of curve in the lower back, usually towards the bottom of the squat. As Mike Robertson discusses, the primary cause of low back pain during squats is when a participant “exceeds their current level of hip mobility and puts pressure on the lumbar spine.”
Excessive curvature of the back during squats can also be harmful. According to Kritz, Cronin, and Patria (2009):

An increase in compressive and shear forces of the lumbar spine has been observed when an athlete squats and does not stabilize the lumbar spine and cannot maintain a straight or slightly extended thoracic spine position. Squatting with an external load with excessive lumbar extension (sloping back) significantly increases compression forces.

That’s why it’s so important to keep a slight but not dramatic curve in the back to avoid overstraining the back. The squat should only be tried with the body as weight and should be learned correctly before adding weights. Learning inappropriate movement patterns, such as absent or excessive curvature of the back, can cause chronic pain.

To avoid a rounded back, it’s important to keep the chest up throughout the squat. Mike Robertson suggests that athletes should “bring your hands close to your shoulders, drive your elbows under the bar, or adjust the placement of the bar against your back” to avoid allowing the rib cage to collapse. However, as Robertson discusses, often, excessive or non-existent curvature of the back can result from a weakness in the stabilizing muscles of the lower back. He recommends using Good Morning to help strengthen the erector spinal muscles while also helping you avoid a bent position during squats. Done right, squats are a tremendous exercise that should be included in almost any strength training workout.

Why Do I Get Lower Back Pain When Squatting?

1. Use of Incorrect Technique 

To perform an effective squat, you need to follow the correct form. It’s not just for getting the most out of exercise. But also, to keep yourself away from pain. How you position your body throughout the squat is very important.

A deterioration in technique or some parts of your body can cause lower back pain during or after squatting. These malfunctions can include collapsed arches and knees and hips that bend backward.

The barbell back squat is the most likely to cause low back pain when proper form is not observed. This is due to the weight placed on your spine.

How to Avoid

The best way to prevent lower back pain while squatting is to make sure you practice the squat technique downwards. There are many tutorials online like this one. But if you’re still unsure, it’s a good idea to hire a personal trainer to walk this lift with you.

Things to do consciously during the squat are:

  • Keeping your weight concentrated on your heels
  • Hinge at the hips instead of bending at the back
  • Loading the barbell in the correct position
  • Positioning your feet flat
  • Avoiding hyperextension along your lower back
  • Keeping your chest in an upright position
  • Not letting your knees get in front of your toes

2. Existing Low Back Injury

We tend to do squats as soon as we have a lower back injury. If you can stabilize your spine through a squat and are pain-free, you can still perform them. If your injury reduces spinal stabilization, you may experience lower back pain. In this case, it is better to sit outside of squats until you get better.

How to Avoid

A great prevention method is to achieve a full recovery and good conditioning before squatting. There are back injuries that can still allow you to squat. However, there are others for whom you need a proper recovery first.

Depending on the severity of the injury, you may be able to get permission to squat from a physical therapist. Do this before returning to regular exercise or starting a program with consistent squats.

When squatting after a low back injury, control is everything! Just make sure you squat as much as you can to maintain your form. This will help you stay pain-free and prevent further injury.

3. Weak Core

Your core muscles are responsible for many things throughout the squat. One of the main things is to stabilize your spine. If you lack strength in your core, stabilization can be difficult. This is especially true when your spine is loaded, as in the back squat.

Your lower back can become hyperextended without reasonable core strength. This is one of the predominant causes of lower back pain while squatting.

How to Avoid

It’s a good idea to do a few basic activation exercises before squatting. This will keep your core warm and ready for interaction and support. Some of these exercises are dead bug, plank, and L-sit (or variations).

Pay attention to the angle of your hips during the squat. Don’t let them bend backward by sending your lumbar spine into hyperflexion. Keep your spine in a neutral position with your hips tucked and core supported.

You may be lacking in overall core strength rather than your ability to wield. In this case, a few weeks of intense core strength and conditioning should get you squatting pain-free.

4. Poor Hip and Ankle Mobility

Performing a balanced and controlled squat does a lot with your mobility. Especially your hip and ankle mobility. If one of these joints has poor flexibility, your squat technique will suffer. And you will feel it in your waist.

If you don’t have ankle flexibility, you’ll notice that your heels can lift off the ground. This happens in the lower phases of your squat. You cannot achieve optimal hip muscle activation without your heels on the ground. As a result, your waist carries much more weight than it should.

If your hip mobility is limited, you will struggle to get into the squat position efficiently. Failure to hinge well at the hips leads to excessive curvature of the lower back. Especially in the lower phases of the squat.

How to Avoid

The best way to prevent back pain in this situation is to work on your general mobility. For a good level of flexibility, you need to maintain it consistently. You can do this in the form of dynamic stretches and mobility exercises.

Another prevention method is to make sure you complete a warm-up before your squat session. A good warm-up consists of rolling the lower body foam and movements that lubricate the joints.

5. Overload

It’s simple – going too fast will encourage lower back pain and injury.

As you lower your squat to the ground, your body still needs time to adjust to the movement and load. Do not increase your weights or repetitions until your body has gained the appropriate strength to do so.

Overloading can take the form of loaded weight or volume (sets and reps).

How to Avoid

Advancing your squat by increasing your reps or weights is encouraged. But these increases need to be in line with your body’s strength gains to prevent back pain.

Doing squats will strengthen and condition your body. Squats will improve your balance and flexibility. They will prepare your core to stabilize under tougher loads. This progress comes on time, and it’s important not to rush the process.


Thus, the causes of your lower back pain – revealed! As you can see, there are logical explanations for the lower back pain you may experience. Fortunately, there is a solution for each of the problems presented in this article.

If you still suffer from lower back pain, consider visiting a physical therapist. This will help you identify the deeper issues.

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