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Squatting TOO Low?

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  • Squatting TOO Low?

    Hi all,

    Is it possible to go down too low in a back squat and hurt your lower back? I never hear anything but "squat low, squat lower" whenever I read about squats, but if you are a Grokker who spends a lot time in a full squat, and can squat very low indeed with no trouble, should I not be going all to the bottom of my ROM when I do a loaded back squat?

    I ask because I think that's what I have been doing the last few weeks, and why my back is hurting pretty bad right now.
    Today I will: Eat food, not poison. Plan for success, not settle for failure. Live my real life, not a virtual one. Move and grow, not sit and die.

    My Primal Journal

  • #2
    Here are a couple of links to videos of me squatting:

    Squatting all the way down.
    Below parallel but a little higher.

    If anyone can point out where I am going wrong here or what I should be doing to avoid problems, please do!

    (All I had handy that approximated a bar was a broom)
    Today I will: Eat food, not poison. Plan for success, not settle for failure. Live my real life, not a virtual one. Move and grow, not sit and die.

    My Primal Journal

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    • #3
      You should go down to where your hips are parallel with your knees. Any lower and you can begin to invoke tendinitis in your knees. If you are going lower to make it a harder workout, add more weight instead.

      Also, the most important thing is to keep your back straight and breath in when you go down. Squats engage your largest muscles and they will be burning through energy requiring tons of oxygen. Take good deep breathes going down and exhale going up (the lift will help you exhale lots and impede breathing in, least that's my experience). To keep your back straight, my lifting coach in high school told us to try and simultaneously push your nipples through the wall in front of you while trying to also split your chest open. This action forces your back to remain straight. Pushing back on the bar with your thumbs and pushing your chest out will do this. Pay major attention to this, especially when you get tired, that's when form starts to suffer the most.

      And general rule of thumb, if it hurts, stop doing it. Pain (real pain, not extreme discomfort) is your body telling you something is wrong. If your back is hurting, I would lay off the squats for a week or so, give it time to heal, then come back into it. Practice with an empty bar. Squats are major important to have perfect form since it is the easiest to cause major damage since you are doing the most weight and putting it on arguably your most important structure, your spine.
      Last edited by JHen; 09-25-2011, 04:00 AM.

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      • #4
        I did this very thing this past Thursday morning!! Trying to get lower, I felt a pop in my lower left back. Three days (and two trips to the chiropractor) later, I am still having problems. Granted, my age probably has a lot to do with this, but no more past parallel for me once I am healed.
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        • #5
          That pop might have been a tendon connecting your glutes to your pelvic region. Another reason to not go past parallel. If the lift is too easy, add more weight, don't go lower.

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          • #6
            Why do you say this, tendinitis in knees? Everything I have read says to go deep, and no mention of tendinitis if you go below parallel. Mark Rippetoe tells you to go below parallel in his Starting Strength, so you you cannot just come and say "you will get tendinitis". Show me something.

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            • #7
              That's what I was told when I was trained for weight lifting. It might be bunk I don't know. It does put extra strain on the tendons and I've felt it tendon pain from squatting too low. I suppose if you ease into it, it could work. It' just what I was warned against is all. And I didn't say it will, I said it can begin to cause.

              When it comes to doing squats, I err on the side of safety because you can really mess up important parts of your body.

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              • #8
                You need good flexibility to go low. If your hips, hamstrings or achilles are tight it will make you round your back going low causing LBP. Work on flexibility to go past parallel.
                http://kitoikitchen.blogspot.com/

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                • #9
                  IMO with proper technique and not overloading you cannot squat too low. In fact in grok squatting the whole idea is to get as low--ass as close to the ground--as you possibly can. Now if you are squatting with weight, particularly heavy lifting, and I know this is what the OP is talking about, I don't believe there is any continued benefit to going below just below parallel (Rippetoe) and you can injure yourself. For increasing flexibility and fine tuning technique, grok squatting has worked quite well for me. I also recommend mobilitywod.com
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                  • #10
                    Lots of good videos on youtube, Squat Rx are the ones. There is also a website called stumptuous that breaks it down, and has some good pics of how not to do squats. I worked with a world class powerlifter woman the other day at her basement gym, I was OK in form, but I was not dropping my hips/butt first before descending. Once I started dropping the hips/butt first, itallowed for better form and greater depth. She also told me to inhale deeply at the top, before I start, hold it, squat, exhale at the top. Now, I am only squatting in the 65 - 75 lb range, I can do more of course, but I want form to be correct. My kneeds always feel tight for a day or so after squatting, not hurt or pained at all, just tight. Cindy

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                    • #11
                      @JHen: I'm not worried about my knees, from everything I have read the risk of injury to the knee doing a correct squat is nil.

                      Did anyone watch the videos I posted? They're less than a minute each of me squatting (with just a broom, I don't have ay weights at my house) from front, side, and back. I would really appreciate knowledgeable input...
                      Today I will: Eat food, not poison. Plan for success, not settle for failure. Live my real life, not a virtual one. Move and grow, not sit and die.

                      My Primal Journal

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                      • #12
                        Your videos look good, from the front. But we need to see it from the side. So make another one.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JHen View Post
                          You should go down to where your hips are parallel with your knees. Any lower and you can begin to invoke tendinitis in your knees.
                          No offense but where do such stories come from? We are designed to squat, PERIOD! If full squats created tendonitis many cultures of the world wouldn't be able to walk. Children would have tendonitis at an early age as most perform full squats daily. Do a search for third-world squats or the "10 Minute Squat Test". Fact- the full squat has been performed since the beginning of time to allow humans to defecate.

                          Our bodies are designed to complete full squats (glutes to calves). The problem is that as people age they spend more time in chairs and less time being active. The result is tight muscles and less joint mobility. Obviously if such a person tries to perform full squats without the proper progressions they will likely run into knee, hip, and/or back issues. Inactivity followed by sudden extremes is what leads to problems. The key is using proper progressions to improve strength, flexibility, and joint mobility.

                          The same people that think full squats are bad for the knees are also the same people that think going barefoot is hard on the feet. The reality is that both of these things have been performed for thousands of years without issues, for good reason...it's how we are designed.


                          Steve

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by szorn View Post
                            No offense but where do such stories come from? We are designed to squat, PERIOD! If full squats created tendonitis many cultures of the world wouldn't be able to walk. Children would have tendonitis at an early age as most perform full squats daily. Do a search for third-world squats or the "10 Minute Squat Test". Fact- the full squat has been performed since the beginning of time to allow humans to defecate.

                            Our bodies are designed to complete full squats (glutes to calves). The problem is that as people age they spend more time in chairs and less time being active. The result is tight muscles and less joint mobility. Obviously if such a person tries to perform full squats without the proper progressions they will likely run into knee, hip, and/or back issues. Inactivity followed by sudden extremes is what leads to problems. The key is using proper progressions to improve strength, flexibility, and joint mobility.

                            The same people that think full squats are bad for the knees are also the same people that think going barefoot is hard on the feet. The reality is that both of these things have been performed for thousands of years without issues, for good reason...it's how we are designed.


                            Steve
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by szorn View Post
                              No offense but where do such stories come from? We are designed to squat, PERIOD! If full squats created tendonitis many cultures of the world wouldn't be able to walk. Children would have tendonitis at an early age as most perform full squats daily. Do a search for third-world squats or the "10 Minute Squat Test". Fact- the full squat has been performed since the beginning of time to allow humans to defecate.

                              Our bodies are designed to complete full squats (glutes to calves). The problem is that as people age they spend more time in chairs and less time being active. The result is tight muscles and less joint mobility. Obviously if such a person tries to perform full squats without the proper progressions they will likely run into knee, hip, and/or back issues. Inactivity followed by sudden extremes is what leads to problems. The key is using proper progressions to improve strength, flexibility, and joint mobility.

                              The same people that think full squats are bad for the knees are also the same people that think going barefoot is hard on the feet. The reality is that both of these things have been performed for thousands of years without issues, for good reason...it's how we are designed.


                              Steve
                              This.

                              Also, when I used to back squat only to parallel, is when I had knee pain. Ever since I started squatting below parallel, aka Ass to Grass, my knee pain is non-existent. This was about 3 years ago. I also have a narrow, high bar squat stance, similar to an Oly lifter's squat style. Sometimes, during warm-ups, I bounce out of the hole.

                              I also alternate with front squats, which you have no choice but to go below parallel!

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