How to do the perfect squat and protect your low back

The squat mainly targets the thighs (quadriceps and hamstrings) and the gluteal muscles. However core strength and stability, ankle stability, back and calf muscle strength and other factors play an important role when you wish to do the perfect squat.

Focusing on technique when performing a squat is important. Injury to the lower back can be avoided when doing a squat, as long as it is done correctly. Lumbar disc irritation and lumbar joint strain are commonly seen with squat injuries. This in turn will trigger muscle spasms in the back and hips as a protective response, resulting in pain and inflammation.

Posture tips for the perfect squat:

  • Stand with your head facing forward
  • Feet should be slightly wider than your hips
  • Feet are slightly pointed outwards and the wider the stance the more outward the feet are
  • Knees should stay in line with feet but not too far over ankles
  • Extend your hands straight out in front of you to help balance
  • Important to keep a neutral (curve forward)  posture in the lower back
  • Keep chest upright
  • Spine straight, avoid hunching

When squatting…..

  • Body weight should be on the heels and not so much on the balls of your feet
  • Sit back like you are sitting on an imaginary chair
  • Chest slightly forward and bottom back
  • Core engaged the entire time
  • Squeeze gluteal muscles as you straighten up at the end of the squat
  • Keep spine straight and avoid hunching

If you are a beginner…

You can use a chair to help you work on getting depth in your squat. It’s a great way to help you focus on technique. Tight hip flexors can be helped by taking a wider stance. This is called a sumo squat and helps you get more depth into the squat.

Remember to :

  • continuously check your form
  • move your bottom backwards as you squat
  • keep knees in line with toes.

If you are a beginner or moving up to a more difficult level, then build your squats up slowly and ensure you have warmed up before performing them. Take it slow as you build up your repetitions.


Your squats more can be more dynamic once you feel confident with your technique. There are several different ways you can increase the work out of your squat.

Here are a few ideas for you:-

  • Add in a weight : this can be a medicine ball, or a weight plate. The weight can be in front of you and close to your chest
  • Use a Thera-band : Try a wrapping the Thera-band around your knees and try squatting. This will help to activate the glute medius muscles.
  • Use your arms : Move your arms in different directions as you squat down. You can move them both forward, up or to the side.


Stop and seek professional help if the squat exercises are causing you pain..

If you would like to know what exercises a healthy spine should be able to do, then CLICK HERE.

If your desk posture is contributing to your lower back pain, then CLICK HERE.

Lisa Smycz, director

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