Q: I’ve got most of your products and look forward to getting the newest one coming out soon. I have one question and hope you can help me.
Front squats cause my lower back to ache and tighten up when performing. I do the squat to stand drill and have a tough time getting my chest up and my butt down.
What is causing the issue with my mobility, and what should I do to keep my lower back out of the front squat? I do all of the static stretches you recommend, but maybe I need to do some of them more.
Here is a video of me doing a couple of reps of front squats. I hope this is what you were wanting. I hurt my lower back about a month ago doing deadlifts. I did front squats prior to the deadlifts. I haven’t done either since. I did this last night just to give you an idea of my form.
Thanks so much
A: So there are quite a few things we can discuss here. Let’s start with the big one first.
Your technique needs work. As you can see, you’re squatting straight down – this is going to murder your knees and lower back over time. Think about initiating from the hips – you’re not going to sit back as much as you would in a back squat, but right now your knees and quads are taking everything.
While it’s hard to tell from the video (without having static posture pictures), it also looks as though you’re in a sway back position. Essentially, your low back is going to take the brunt of almost every exercise, because your external obliques and anterior core stabilizers aren’t strong enough to do their share of the work. Definitely check out my core training pieces on the articles page.
As well, you also demonstrate an exaggerated thoracic kyphosis. When you’re overly kyphotic and you try to squat, you’re always going to over-emphasize extension through the lumbar spine. I’d imagine this happens when you deadlift as well. You’re going to need to work on this – try foam rolling, static stretching and mobility drills for the pecs, lats, etc. to open up the anterior chest, while performing extra upper back work.
If possible, I would actually lay on a foam roller for extended periods of time during the day to get some of your t-spine extension back.
There’s a lot to address here, but this should be a starting point. To recap:
- Improve your squat technique. Lift the chest prior to squatting, and focus on sitting back versus down.
- Get your external obliques stronger. Focus on half-kneeling core exercises, or anything that strengthens the obliques.
- Improve your thoracic extension. Foam rolling, mobility, static stretching, and behavior modification should all be included.
It’s not an easy fix, but that’s would I would do. Good luck!
All the best
(Lead Photo Courtesy of Florida Today)