How to Fix Lower-Back Rounding During Squats

by Grey Evans

About Grey Evans

Grey Evans began writing professionally in 1985. Her work has been published in "Metabolics" and the "Journal of Nutrition." Gibbs holds a Ph.D. in nutrition from Ohio State University and an M.S. in physical therapy from New York University. She has worked at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and currently develops comprehensive nutritional and rehabilitative programs for a neurological team.

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Squatting works the muscles of your legs and hips, but requires strong abdominals and a strong lower back. Rounding your back when squatting limits the weight you can use and increases your risk of injury. Always squat with a flat or slightly arched back. If you often find yourself rounding or leaning forward during squats, correct your posture to maintain safety. Strengthening your supporting muscles and modifying your technique allows you to squat heavily without lower-back issues. Consult a health care practitioner before beginning any strength-training program.

Technique

Step 1

Modify your bar position. If you are carrying the bar high on your neck, lower the bar slightly until it is on your upper back. This puts your back in a stronger position, and increases the degree to which your hips contribute to the lift.

Step 2

Hold the bar tightly on your upper back. If the bar is shifting up when you are squatting, this can cause you to round your back. Pull your elbows down, and pull the bar hard across your upper back with your hands -- as if you are trying to bend the bar.

Step 3

Squat straight down by bending your knees and allowing your hips to bend back. If you are leaning forward or rounding, your hips may be shifting too far to the rear when squatting. Attempt to keep your hip joint in line with your heel or mid-foot and the bar in line with both of them throughout the entire movement. Help keep your spine straight by engaging your core muscles by pulling your belly button toward your spine. Descend until your knees are completely bent.

Step 4

Push back -- do not stand up. If you go straight up out of the bottom of a squat, your hips can come up first, which increases both your forward lean and your chances of rounding your back. Push your head back and your shoulders back against the bar; this increases your ability to keep your torso straight and vertical. Keep your weight evenly distributed through your forefeet and heels as you slowly return to starting position.

Assistance Work

Step 1

Perform good mornings. Lean forward until your torso is parallel to the ground, then stand back up. This exercise strengthens your lower back. You should set up just like you are going to squat, then lean instead of sit. Keep your back arched and your knees slightly bent throughout this exercise, which you should perform for sets of five to eight repetitions.

Step 2

Do heavy weighted situps and crunches to strengthen your abdominals for sets of 10 to 15 repetitions. Your abdominals help keep your torso erect when squatting.

Step 3

Grab a dumbbell to perform side bends, which strengthen your obliques. Hold a dumbbell in one hand and, without rounding your back, lean as far over toward the ground as you can with the dumbbell, then lean the other direction. Sets of 10 to 15 repetitions per side will help your rounding issue.

Items you will need

  • Barbell
  • Squat cage or power rack

Tip

  • Take a video of yourself and see exactly where you are rounding.

Warning

  • Never lift without a spotter.

References (3)

  • ExRx.net: Barbell Full Squat
  • The Westside Barbell Book of Methods; Louie Simmons
  • Strength Training Anatomy -- Third Edition: Frederic Delavier

Photo Credits:

  • Photodisc/Valueline/Getty Images

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.