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Lift Doctor: Heavy Weight Squatting

Improve your position to get through a full range squat without pain.

By Jim Smith, C.S.C.S.

 

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“I can’t squat with high weights due to a heavy pain in my lower back (yes, I already train my lower back) - how can I prevent this from happening?” Ben Pepe

If you’re training your lower back and making it stronger, but there is still pain when you squat, then it might not be a weakness issue.  Most times when you squat, pain comes from trying to force your body into positions it’s not ready for.  Putting a weighted barbell on your back will make it easier to get lower in the squat, but this isn’t always a good thing.

To stay in a good position when you squat, your upper back, hips and ankles require a certain range of motion dependent upon the length of your torso and legs (femur).  When any of these joints or joint segments are tight or restricted, forces are transferred to the joints above and below.

For example, if your hips are tight, then it won’t be able to move through the required range of motion.  So the motion that SHOULD occur at the hips, happens at the lower back.  Unfortunately, the low back isn’t designed for great degrees of movement (flexion) – so it causes irritation and pain. 

I would suggest a couple things to help improve your position and get you through a full range squat without pain. 

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