Yesterday was leg day for me. Usually my first leg exercise are barbell squats which I do six sets starting with 10 reps at 135 ending with my heaviest set at 6 reps at 225. I have been doing this for the past two months. However I must have strained something in my lower back during the heaviest sets and now today I have some stiffness and minor lower back pain. I feel that I had a close call with something more serious and I am considering discarding squats entirely for other leg exercises. I don’t want to end up seriously injuring myself so I am looking for effective replacements for barbell squats. What would you guys suggest for me in terms of looking for replacement leg workout routines?
First, take a few days off. Maybe see if there is something else going on with your posture, or muscle group or just a muscle (this is rare) that is making the squat an issue….but know this, the squat isn’t always the best exercise for legs –especially if you have a dis-functional issue with your feet (pronating, low arch (flat footed) that create instability through the legs, knees and up into the spine. After you have taken time off –at least three days–and if your back feels okay, I suggest switching to lunges. Try forward lunges and reverse lunges to see which is more effective for you–and if you can, try doing both in your leg routine and forget about the squat for a while–or forever. Lunges are a more functional activity anyway and give you body stability and help to focus on leg strength and balance in getting both legs to be able to do the same work. Just a thought.
When I get up from sitting in a comfortable chair, I feel some pain in my lower right side of my back and it is stiff. So I might have injured or strained it somewhat. I am worried that this could have a negative impact on my running routine. I hope not because my body is getting adjusted to running every other day for 3.5 to 4 miles. I will definitely do the lunges and try to perfect my form doing them. Squats are going to have to be put on the back burner for awhile. I am also thinking of including the stair master as part of my leg workout.
I agree with Lifter67. Squats are an amazing exercise that works your entire body but unless your form is perfect, they can also be the most dangerous. This goes for deadlifts as well.
First, I would take some time off from squats regardless of what you decide and do some stretching. Are you familiar with the yoga move called “The Cobra?” Here is a video in case you’re not…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWpUTLghv_0 Since your back is aggravated, I would simply prop yourself up on your elbows and lie in that position until you feel your stomach relax completely into the floor. Resist the temptation to do anything. Your only goal here is to relax into the floor. Once you’re able to do that without pain, you can proceed to extend your arms if you feel you’re ready.
Another great stretch that helps redistribute the spinal fluid and relieve pressure is The Cat Stretch. No idea why they’re calling it a Cat Cow Stretch here but this is the exercise. … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpNznspZZEY
Once your back has stopped hurting, I would start back with a machine leg press. Work up to lunges if you want but be advised that lunges are by nature a very destabilizing exercise so I would do them with body weight only for a week or so because If you stubble with heavy weights, that can throw your back out as well.