If you feel pain in some body parts during squats, your hips or lower back are probably too tight, your trunk muscles are weak, and your buttocks are not well developed.
Weak gluteal muscles
No matter where it hurts during squats, weak gluteus muscles often become the cause of pain. The dominance of quadriceps is explained by the peculiarities of their structure, sedentary work, and lack of basic knowledge about the technique of performing exercises. To squat correctly, it is important to establish joint work of the back muscles of the thigh, buttocks, and quadriceps.
In particular, the buttocks in squats should become the main muscles. If the gluteal muscles are not strong enough to control the eccentric (squat) and concentric (lift) phase of the movement, if they are not able to help the muscles of the body to keep the back upright, other muscles have to do extra work.
Weak buttocks often force you to lean forward too much during your squats, and lower back muscles and hip flexors try to correct the situation. The lower back is not adapted to perform gluteal muscle work during squats. Leaning forward also causes the hip flexors to do extra work so you can keep your balance. And if your flexors are constantly working for wear, this can result in pain in the thigh.
Poor hips and upper back flexibility
The hips and upper back (thoracic spine) must be very flexible. But since most of us spend a lot of time in a sitting position, the mobility of these anatomical zones is greatly affected.
When you squat, due to lack of flexibility in your hips and in the thoracic spine, you lean forward. Although there is nothing wrong with a slight incline in the downward phase of the squat, the lack of flexibility causes the incline to become excessive. Excessive inclination violates the natural arch of the spine, and this is especially noticeable in its lumbar part.
If the natural arch of the axial skeleton is disrupted, you cannot avoid pain.
Weak trunk muscles
In addition to the problems listed above, many underestimate the importance of the muscles of the trunk for proper squats. When you squat, it is important to keep the spine upright, neutral, and maintain that position throughout the exercise. If the core muscles are weak, it is impossible to keep the back straight.
If you cannot fix the body in an upright position, everything will end with an abnormal forward bend with a violation of the natural arch of the spine. Both problems, as you already know, cause discomfort. In addition, it will be very difficult for you to squat with a heavyweight.
Squat without pain: action plan
Point 1: practice the technique
The complexity of squats is that everyone has physique, and it’s impossible to derive a universal formula for the squat technique. However, if during a squat you don’t “sit back”, if your knees go inside, or if your body is completely leaning forward, it is likely that the pain is at least partially caused by a violation of the exercise technique.
Point 2: muscle gain
To do this, practice exercises with a fitball. For example, this:
To perform this exercise, press your elbows and forearms into the fitball so that the body is in the plank position, but with a slight bend in the knees. Do circular movements (rotations) with your elbows, allowing your hips to move as well. Rotate your elbows in both directions.
Start with 30 seconds in each direction and gradually bring the time to one minute.
Point 3: stretch the hip flexors
We sit a lot. This means that our hip flexors are generally shorter and less elastic. Next, we will talk about a simple but very effective stretching of the hip flexors, which, if is performed correctly, can be a decisive factor.
To stretch, stand on one knee and place a Pilates cylinder in front of you. Actively push the projectile and push it towards the floor. This small but important step ensures that you recruit your trunk muscles and feel the stretch of the hip flexors.
Keep your back upright as you strain your buttocks and point them down. Lean forward at the hip joints, holding the position for at least 2 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat the exercise 8-10 times with each leg.