Among many other things, Back Pain Symptoms is dedicated to providing you with exercise information you can incorporate into your everyday life to prevent a back injury from occurring or help provide you with pain relief.
We know that many back pain sufferers are cautious about doing lower back pain exercises for fear that they will make their symptoms worse. One exercises most back pain sufferers are curious if they should be doing is squats.
To that end, we thought we’d get an opinion on squats from certified master trainer at Bay Tennis and Fitness, Glenn Stark. Here’s what Glenn had to say in an April 4, 2012 Harbor Light article:
Q: Are Squats Bad for Your Back and Knees?
The squat is an exercise surrounded by controversy and myth. It’s not uncommon to hear: “I can’t do squats because I have a bad back and/or knees”. Just like any new exercise, caution must be taken, and if you have any back or knee issues you should first consult with your physician.
The myth that a squat can cause back and knee issues is simply not true. Doing squats with bad form, however, can be the cause of pain or injury — just as any other exercise performed with poor form.
Form is first and foremost with any exercise you do. I have trained clients from their teens to their eighties, from Pre-Operation to Post-Operation knee replacements, by having them do some variation of the squat.
One of the keys to learning and feeling comfortable doing squats is to start by doing them with little to no load. You may feel uneasy attempting a squat at first, but if you are able to sit down and get up out of a chair then you are well on your way to being able to performing a squat. In fact, this simple act when done with proper form is an exercise itself. I call it a sit to stand.
Sit-To-Stand and Body Squats
Squatting using just your own body weight is referred to as a body squat. Start by standing upright with feet flat about shoulder width apart. Focus on keeping your weight on the heels by pushing your hips back with your knees slightly turned out. Hinge forward at the hip as you lower down into a chair or bench when performing a Sit-To-Stand. If you are performing a Body Squat, try and go as low as you can without rounding your back forward. It is important to keep your back flat and your head up. Push through your heels to return to the starting position.
Dumbbell and Barbell Squats
Dumbbell and Barbell squats are performed with the same form. When performing a dumbbell squat keep them at your shoulders with your palms in. Keep the dumbbells at shoulder height throughout the squat. When performing a barbell squat make sure to position the barbell on the back of your shoulders with the bar resting just below your neck.
With any of these squats make sure your knees are not buckling in toward each other. This places the majority of the load on the knees, a bad result.
Squats work nearly every muscle: your legs move the weight while your abs and lower back stabilize the load; and your arms also work to stabilize the load.
So make sure to add squats to your routine and you will be able to strengthen your back and knees, as well as gain strength and flexibility.
So, what’s the bottom line?
First and foremost, you should always consult with your physician before beginning any new exercise program, particularly if you are contending with a bad back. That said, if your doctor gives you a green light, squatting lower back pain exercises may be quite safe to do as long as you are doing them in the correct form.