Of the common squat injuries, the lower back comes up as the most frequent site of injury. However, this doesn’t mean that the squat is a dangerous exercise, because it’s not. But this does mean that you need to pay careful consideration to your squat form, as there’s a few common squat exercise form mistakes that people make with it that can contribute to lower back pain and injury overtime. In this video I’ll go through exactly what those squat mistakes are and how to fix them so that you can improve your squat, avoid injury and build up stronger, pain free squats.
The first squat exercise form mistake you’re making is something called butt wink. Research seems to indicate that this subtle rounding of the lumbar spine is associated with spinal disc injuries and can become problematic over time. Most individuals experience this butt wink due to ankle mobility issues. And if you do struggle with ankle mobility, what you’ll want to do is incorporate daily ankle mobility stretches and before you squat.
Also, some “quick fixes” to your squat form:
1) Use a wider stance as this will enable you to squat deeper with less ankle mobility.
2) Invest in lifting shoes as these provide a heel lift which helps with your ankle mobility.
The next crucial mistake you’re making with your squats is something termed as the “good morning squat”, which is when the hips shoot up and rise at a much faster rate than the chest does. This is problematic because it increases the lumbar forces and shear stress experienced at the spine. To address this, you need to focus on keeping that chest upright during the ascent and ensuring that your hips aren’t shooting back behind you. If you struggle with this, then this likely has to do with both your motor coordination and a weakness in your quadriceps. To correct this, the best course of action would be to lighten the weight and start incorporating paused squats.
The last of the squat mistakes has to do with your breathing. Breathing in on the way down and breathing out on the way up is fine to do for most exercises that are less strenuous. But doing so when it comes to your more fatiguing sets of barbell squats is going to result in a ton of instability during the lift. Instead, you need to use a breathing technique that increases your intra-abdominal pressure. Take a big breath into your abdomen and then brace your core as if someone were about to punch your stomach. Then, keep bracing and hold this breath as you “go underwater” descend and ascend during your rep, and then exhale and reset at the top position as you come out of the water.
Here’s the exact action plan you’ll want to take to improve your squat.
1. If you experience excessive butt wink at the bottom of your squat, test if it’s due to ankle mobility instructions. If it is, perform daily ankle mobility exercises and avoid deep heavy squats (go to parallel instead) until your mobility improves.
2. Avoid the “good morning” squat where the hips shoot back as you come up from the bottom of the squat. To correct this, incorporate paused squats and think about “driving the chest up” out of the bottom position as you squat.
3. During your heavier sets of barbell squats, you can protect your lower back and add more stability by raising your IAP with the “underwater” breathing analogy presented earlier.
By being aware of these key points as you’re squatting and implementing the necessary fixes for them, you’ll be able to both alleviate any lower back pain you may be experiencing when squatting and better protect your lower back from injury in the long run. And if you’re looking for a science-based plan that optimizes your exercises and all the various aspects of your program for you in an easy to follow manner such that you can quickly build strength and size as effectively and as safely as possible with science, then simply take the analysis quiz below to discover which specific program is best for your body and where it’s currently at:
LINK TO POWERLIFTING SHOES:
Filmed by: Bruno Martin Del Campo
Music by Ryan Little – Keep Quiet – https://thmatc.co/?l=1A891A6B