EstimatedEst. Read Time: 4 minutes
DEEP SQUATTING AND YOUR LOWER BACK – THE FINAL WORD

deep squatsWalk into any gym and take a peak over at the squat racks and what do you see?  Usually a few bulky (a nice way of saying fat) guys who wear weight belts cinched so tightly around their waists that they look like funnels!  But take a look besides them.  What’s there?  Yeah, the white stuff…besides that pile of weights.

No, that’s not talc powder for improving grip…it’s actually crushed spine and bone from lifters past who disintegrated under yet another heavy loaded deep squat!  When are they going to learn?!?  Let me help clarify why this is happening and how I can help prevent your spine from suffering a similar fate.

 

A Quick Anatomy of the Spine

Lets start with a quick anatomy lesson.  The lumbar spine is the lowest segment of your spine (just above your tailbone) that is naturally curved inward or toward the front when viewed from the side.  It’s primary job is to provide stability to the pelvis and hips and its available motion is much less than what you’d see further up the spine in the thoracic area (mid back) and cervical area (in the neck).

The area however is so crucially important to not only well being but also entire spine health that there are numerous thick muscles intimately surrounding the lumbar segments (like construction support beams) that provide extra protection from undesirable movement.  Well…even those muscles can’t protect the spine from stupidity! Sorry to be so blunt but it’s true.

Perhaps the worst motion you can subject your lumbar spine to is flexion under load with a bit of rotation.  Take a look again at that rock bottom squat and what are you seeing?  Lots of posterior pelvic tilt (or FLEXION) with a load (ummm….can you say 300 + pounds sometimes?!?) and a bit of rotation (even the slightest difference in foot placement right vs left can cause you to rotate your pelvis ever so slightly).

This is the recipe for disaster.  There have been many a deep squatter who has blown out their disc mid-set and never were the same again. It’s serious…and oh so preventable!

 

Overloading The Legs Without Harming The Back

First of all, most of you know already that I think that there are plenty of ways to overload the legs that don’t involve heavy back squatting. Single leg Bulgarian Split Squats (with dumbbells), pistol squats, etc are all ways to push your limits of strength and size without endangering the health of the lower back.  But that said, done correctly (rarely ever done), the back squat can be ok as long as you’re stopping your reps at parallel.

I say parallel but understand it can be taken slightly lower AS LONG AS YOU CAN MAINTAIN THE FLAT BACK at that lower position.  As soon as that tailbone starts to curve under like a dog tucking it’s tail after stealing your grilled chicken (that would be my Black Lab Charlie!) you better stop that rep right there.  Reverse direction, power up with the legs and keep the head up as you push back up to a standing position.  The rewards of going any lower just don’t justify the risks.

Now, as a physical therapist who has seen numerous lumbar disc herniations in my day…it’s usually quite obvious as to what motion led to the final blowout but it’s not always so cut and dry as to what repetitively led to that last straw breaking.   In some cases we’ll never know.

But what’s important to realize is…when it comes to protecting your back in the long run…you want to minimize your exposure to movements we know physiologically don’t jive with how your body works.  Rock bottom or Deep Squatting is one of those moves.

Protect your back and prevent having it confused with powdered talc.  Be the one at the squat rack that’s not only getting it right, but is standing upright years later…feeling strong, pain free and fresh from years of doing this exercise the right way.

Stay Strong,

Jeff

 

If you’ve either suffered from lower back pain that has been caused by your workouts or is causing you to miss your workouts…it’s time you start training smarter.  For all new and unique ways to spark new muscle growth and strength without breaking down your joints in the process…come check out the AthLEAN-X Training System (developed by former NY Mets Physical Therapist Jeff Cavaliere) and discover how to put your final painful rep behind you forever!

Popular & Trending
stop doing face pulls like this facepull mistake
1
How To Do Face Pulls
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
September 9th, 2019
Face pulls are one of the best corrective exercises to help offset poor posture and shoulder dysfunction.  They help strengthen the chronically weak...
how to identify your body fat percentage with images for men
2
Body Fat Percentage
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
May 1st, 2013
There are many ways to measure body fat percentage; some wildly expensive and most inaccurate. It's time to give you an alternative method that...
2 reasons your biceps aren't growing and 3 ways to fix it
3
Why Your Biceps Aren’t Growing
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
August 22nd, 2019
Have you ever felt that no matter how much you trained your biceps you’re left saying… “My Biceps STILL Aren’t Growing?” I believe I know...
The PERFECT Abs Workout
4
The PERFECT Abs Workout
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
July 31st, 2019
We’ll be following my ‘Six Pack Progression’ sequence as we choose each of the beginner and advanced ab exercises for each abdominal movement...
incline bench press avoid mistakes for upper chest
5
How To Incline Bench Press Correctly
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
June 21st, 2019
The Incline Bench Press is one of the best upper chest exercises there is, but there's one major problem preventing us from getting the maximum...
best dumbbell exercises for chest
6
The BEST Dumbbell Exercises for CHEST
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
October 9th, 2019
Today I’m going to share my favorite chest exercises… but there’s a catch. We can only use dumbbells! I’ll show you what to do whether you...
how to construct a complete chest workout
7
The PERFECT Chest Workout
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
July 25th, 2019
The classic theory of "Upper, Middle, and Lower" chest exercises is a good start, but, it's not enough!! The solution to this problem is to not...
best dumbbell exercises for shoulders
8
BEST Dumbbell Exercises for SHOULDERS
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
October 5th, 2019
You want to build big shoulders and you only have access to a few pairs of dumbbells. What do you do? I’m going to show you what to do whether...
how to construct a complete biceps workout
9
The PERFECT Biceps Workout
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
July 15th, 2019
The classic theories of “just do curls” or “it’s not necessary to train your biceps directly” are both flat out wrong! Why? Because it’s...
Home Chest Exercises UPPER, MID, LOWER CHEST!!
10
Chest Exercises at Home
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
May 27th, 2021
Being able to effectively hit your upper, mid and lower chest from home with NO equipment may seem impossible. But, I’m here to show you it’s...