How to Squat if You Have Low Back Pain
By Jay Campbell
May 4th, 2017
Low Back Pain affects around 75% of people at some point in their life.
Its about as common as the common cold, it’s almost impossible to find someone whose never experienced it.
If you get into resistance training to any serious degree, you’ll encounter literature that calls the barbell back squat the “King of exercise”.
Ive seen all manner of hyperbole attached to back squatting.
Statements such as:
REAL MEN SQUAT
You either squat, or you are a pussy
Nothing is better than squats
Death or squatting
So on and so forth.
While I understand the faux alpha tough attitude, its also a bunch of silly bullshit.
Narrowing masculinity down to whether or you can do a variant of a movement pattern is bloody absurd,
And the reality is that barbell back squatting is NOT going to be a “superior ultimate ultra” movement for everyone universally.
Such thinking is the usual binary fuckery you encounter in the fitness industry.
Its emotional persuasion language, throw in some half truthful scientific jargon, you believe.
The Meta Level truth is that there is NO exercise that you are required to do. And there is no such thing as a singularly superior movement.
While being able to squat is crucial for lowerbody strength and athletic ability, HOW you squat can vary. There is no exercise fits all
-To illustrate WHY you dont need to backsquat, understand that back squats are “axial loading” of the spine, meaning the bar placed on the upper back puts pressure down the entire spinal column.
This is NOT necessary for muscle growth. While in some people they find it comfortable and it has positive effects on increasing bone density, in others, back squats are simply not a movement they are ever going to get that strong in.
How well you can load your spine depends greatly on your spinal column structure and overall body size.
There are FOUR different kinds of vertebra structure, ranging from oval to square to thick to thin, no two spines are exactly the same.
Due to structural differences, this is largely what determines how you respond to axial loading.
Some people it feels GOOD. Others, you are setting yourself up for injury if you push the load too much.
Point made, back squatting is not the only way to squat, there are many ways create tension and apply load to the legs.
You have many other alternatives to where you can place the load, with no direct axial loading required
Many many many people seriously injure their spine due to axial loading too heavy.
There is nothing to be prideful about for training hard and heavy for 10 years from 25-35, and then spending 35 for the rest of your life in pain and unable to train pain free.
You were not tough, you were stupid. And unless you actually COMPETED at an elite level, then Im not sure what the payoff was.
Context established, what are alternative exercises to back squatting?
You’ve got at least TEN of them. You can find all of these in my book “The Most Effective Exercise Guide”,
1. Single Leg Split Squats
3. Sumo DB Squats
4. Machine hack squats
5. DB Upright squats
6. Hip Belt Squats
7. Suspension pistol Squats
8. DB Front squats (goblet squats)
9. Trap bar upright Deadsquats
10. KB Front Squats
None of the above put hard pressure onto the spine like the back squats, and all of them can be progressively loaded to build muscle, get stronger, and keep your training pain and injury free
Try them out.