Can Squats Help Lower Back Pain? The Answer Might Surprise You
You’ve probably associated lower back pain with your workouts since some exercises—like squats—can cause it if done incorrectly. Well, believe it or not, squats can also help prevent it.
According to a study published in the journal Spine, people who did squats and other exercises that target the glutes, hamstrings, and hips were less likely to suffer from lower back pain. So if you’re someone who suffers from lower back pain, don’t be afraid to add squats to your routine.
If you’re someone that’s not used to doing squats, or exercise, don’t worry. This doesn’t have to be painful or uncomfortable. It’s the other way around: squats can help your pain to ease off.
Let’s find out why.
Can squats help low back pain?
Squats can help to improve lower back pain for a lot of people.
Patients find that it helps to stretch and loosen the muscles in the lower back, helping to relieve pain. However, other people may find that squats aggravate their back pain. It is important to listen to your body and only do squats if they feel comfortable for you.
Also, if you want to do an exercise and don’t know the technique, the best thing to do is start by doing it under guidance.
Squats are good for back pain because they work the muscles in the back, which helps to support the spine and keep it healthy.
You may do them at home, in a gym, in a park, the place is not a problem. You also don’t necessarily need weight, as doing squats with your weight is a great exercise on its own.
When you do squats, be sure to keep your back straight, and don’t let your knees go over your toes.
Go down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, and then come back up. Squats are a great exercise to do every day, and you can increase the intensity by adding weight.
Let’s dive into back pain and its causes.
What Causes Low Back Pain?
Low back pain can vary greatly from person to person. However, some of the most common causes include muscle strains, ligament sprains, herniated discs, and spinal stenosis.
In many cases, the pain can be alleviated through a combination of rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medications. However, if the pain persists or worsens, it is important to seek medical attention from your doctor or physical therapist.
Low back pain can result from a variety of conditions, which include:
Strains and Sprains
Injuries to the muscles, ligaments, or tendons are the most common cause.
Strains and sprains are both caused by overstretching and tearing—the difference is that strains affect muscles and tendons while sprains affect ligaments.
These injuries happen most commonly when lifting heavy objects or making sudden movements that put stress on the lower back. They can also be caused by sports injuries or poor posture.
Strains and sprains typically cause acute pain, not chronic.
Let’s look at some conditions that can cause chronic low back pain.
- Degenerative disc disease: This is a condition that affects the spinal discs, which are meant to cushion the vertebrae. With age, discs can wear down and eventually tear, causing pain and other complications.
- Spinal stenosis: It is also related to the degeneration of spinal discs, but results in the compression of nerve roots or the spinal cord—in other words, the spinal cord narrows.
- Osteoarthritis: A progressive disease resulting from the wear and tear of the spinal facet joints.
Other Causes of Low Back Pain
- Lumbar herniated disc: Also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, it occurs when a disc, or part of it, pushes out and presses on a nerve.
- Fibromyalgia: A long-term autoimmune condition that causes musculoskeletal pain all over the body.
- Congenital spinal diseases: Conditions like scoliosis or lordosis can cause abnormal curvatures of the spine and result in low back pain.
- Trauma: Accidents, such as falls, can result in fractures or other injuries to the spine that can cause low back pain.
- Other autoimmune diseases: Low back pain can be a symptom of several types of arthritis, lupus, Crohn’s disease, and other autoimmune conditions.
- Tumor: Although very rare, back pain can be caused by spinal tumors, which are usually metastatic (meaning they originated in another area of the body and spread to the spine).
Low Back Pain and Exercise
If you’ve had back pain, you’ve also probably been told to rest and avoid physical activity. But in most cases, more than two days of rest can slow down healing and cause more pain.
Instead, start with gentle activities like walking, and then slowly add in more strenuous exercises as your back feels better. If you’re still in pain after a few days of gentle activity, talk to your doctor to see if you need a different treatment plan.
Go for it!
No exercise is guaranteed to help relieve back pain, but some exercises are known to help. These include exercises that stretch and strengthen the back and abdominal muscles, as well as exercises that improve posture.
So… How Exactly Does Exercise Help Back Pain?
Exercise has many benefits that can gradually help you recover from back pain, such as:
- Strengthening the muscles that support your spine reduces the chance of injuring your spinal discs and facet joints.
- Improving mobility.
- Improving circulation helps distribute nutrients more effectively to the spine (and rest of the body)
Promoting your body’s release of endorphins not only helps relieve pain itself by improving your perception of it but also the mental and emotional symptoms of chronic pain by boosting your mood.
There is no single exercise or approach for everyone with back pain. However, some general tips may help.
If you have low back pain, start by gradually adding some simple exercises to your daily routine. Regular exercise can help improve your flexibility and strength and may help reduce your pain.
Some basic exercises that may help include:
- Low-impact aerobics.
If you are new to exercise, start slowly and gradually increase your activity level. Be sure to listen to your body and stop if you experience any pain.
Also, be sure to stretch before and after exercise. Stretching helps to improve your flexibility and reduces your risk of injury.
Some good stretches to try include:
- Hamstring stretch.
- Quadriceps stretch.
- Piriformis stretch.
- Cat-cow stretch.
Why It’s Important to Have a Strong Back
It’s important because it allows you to do things you couldn’t do before. It also keeps you healthy and prevents injuries.
Your back is the foundation of your body. It supports your upper body and allows you to do things like bend over, reach up high, and twist. A strong back helps you stay healthy and prevents injuries.
If your back is weak, you’re more likely to injure it and back injuries can be very painful and can take a long time to heal. A strong back helps you stay active and do the things you enjoy.
FAQ about squats and back pain
Can squats help me with my back problems?
Exercise is often recommended by specialists when a patient experiences back pain. In some rare and risky cases it's better not to work out, but most of the time your back will benefit from constant exercise.
Is exercising for my back pain something difficult?
Not at all. There are many exercises and workout plans that you use just with your own weight. Also, weight, how many reps, the type of exercise, and other factors are variable among patients.
With the help of your doctor and trainer, you can choose the right plan for you. Exercising doesn't have to be a terrible experience, you can find ways to do it so you take care of your back as well as have fun.
Do I have to go to the gym to exercise my back?
No! There are tons of exercises you can do at home and without one machine or equipment. You just have to find the best routine for you and keep your discipline. The results will come shortly!
Do I need weight to do squats?
Not in all cases. Any athlete can tell you that doing 50 squats in a row with your weight is a great exercise. The more weight you have, the more effort it’ll take you to do the squat, so you’ll be able to do fewer reps.