The Barbell Squat and Your Spine

Before we get started, we’ve written an introduction to the barbell squat, for the lay-person that is looking for an overall description of the movement.

Now and again, you might hear someone say that the barbell squat is unsafe, even harmful for your back; that it will compress your spine or cause serious injury to your lower back in the long term. But are these concerns valid, or just the excuse of a weightlifter who’s hit a plateau? Let’s consider some factors together.

Squatting Is Natural

First, humans have been squatting for thousands of years. The squat is a very natural position to assume, both for relief and rest. For example, if you’ve ever observed an infant for any meaningful amount of time, you would have no doubt noticed that they assume the squat position quite regularly. There is no doubt that the position of the squat has inherit benefits when performed regularly, such as strength and overall stability increase.

Squatting for Strength

Many use a bodyweight squat for strength and conditioning, especially in the case of rehabilitation. For some, their own weight provides enough resistance to sustain steady progression strength gains. Others may choose to increase the resistance by learning how to properly utilize the barbell squat, gradually adding weight as they progress. It is key, however, to learn the proper technique when attempting to barbell squat. If not, this is where possible injury can occur.

Not Everyone Can Squat

At times, due to either injury, age or even genetics, squatting can be a trial. Though there are ways of improving ones range of motion of the hips by way of various stretches and complimentary movements, there can be other limiting factors that are best discussed with a medical professional.

So, should you squat? Well, that’s up to you. If you’re aware of the facts surrounding both the positive and potential negative results from barbell squatting, you’ll be well educated to make that determination on your own.

Dr. Raminder Badyal
Dr. Raminder Badyal
Vancouver chiropractor
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