View Full Version : Painful Back Squat - Hips/Back out of place?

Michael McLeish
12-12-2007, 10:02 AM
After today's WOD I posted the following:

Not excited about today. I went to the garage gym pretty pumped, but had some setbacks:

Burgener Warmup, 10 OHS, 10 BS @45, some ring dips & pushups. Then stretching.

195x5 - OK, but could get lower
205x3 - Got lower, doesnt feel quite right
205x3 - Now right hip hurts at bottom (barely parallel)
185x3 - Reduced weight/moved camera to see better angle
185x1 - moved camera to behind me. I found that my butt is shifted significantly to the left at the bottom - no wonder my right hip hurts!

What was more perplexing is I took some video of doing OHS with a dowel with the video to my back. While the squat bar was held pretty level on my shoulders, the OHS dowel was angled to the left by literally 5-10 degrees! I am not sure what the fix is. Is my back/hip bone alignment off that badly?

Comment #100 - Posted by Mike Mc 29/5'9"/163# on December 12, 2007 08:24 AM

I took some video snapshots of my Back Squat @185# and the OHS with a dowel. Again the weight of the BS's didn't bother me, but my right hip started to hurt so I went lighter to see what was up with the form. You can see that both photos have my butt shifted to the left of center. I would have wagered a good bet that my OHS dowel was level - was I surprised when I watched the video!!!:confused:

Any expert opinions? Can I get it straight?



Gant Grimes
12-12-2007, 10:35 AM
Michael, I'm no expert, but I have the same issues.

Hopefully it's as simple as a flexibility issue (hip, knee, ankle).

In my case, I had a hip injury at the same time I shredded my left knee. I've had knee surgery, but my leg is still out of whack. I see a chiro to adjust my SI joint (google it; it might be an issue with you), but that only helps a little. If I'm lying down, my right knee is higher than my left. If I'm standing, my left leg sits back. For whatever reason, my leg sits differently in the hip joint. It's a little bit shorter, so I can't generate the power that I should in OLY lifts. If I'm squatting, I throw a 1" piece of rubber under my left leg to balance out the work.

It looks like your left knee is higher off the ground in the OHS picture. Your feet are pointed at a different angle, and your ankles have different degrees of flexion. Your hips are left of center when going to depth. The dowel angle could be a shoulder flexibility issue; it might also be exacerbated by the hip issue.

I don't have advice beyond staying on top of it. It sucks for me. The imbalance can lead to foot, knee, leg, hip, and back pain. Get it resolved before it becomes a problem for you.

Hopefully someone more knowledgeable will chime in.

Craig Brown
12-12-2007, 11:35 AM
You might want to get checked by a sports specific chiropractor, as well. I used to be quite out of whack at the hips & shoulders, which caused similiar issues in the gym.

Very cool Aussie walked up to me after a set and said:

"Mate, you are mess, and you need to see a doctor."

He was right!


Michael McLeish
12-12-2007, 02:32 PM
I have been seeing a chiropractor since last April or so about once per week. Mostly b/c my neck is really messed up (not sure if it was from jumping off of things as a kid, skiing in college, who knows?) That was up until September, after which I had been travelling until early November. I've had one adjustment since I've been back, and I'm starting to question the whole process.

Craig - I think you are right. I think I'd like to try to find a more sports-oriented chiropractor and see if I can get some of these issues straightened out (not supposed to be a pun, but there it is) for once.

More importantly, I'd like to find/fix the root cause of all my crookedness so that my body doesn't go back to the wrong shape a couple hours after each adjustment.

I just don't feel like my neck/shoulder issue is any better after all the treatments. More massages-different chiropractor-acupuncture? What is it going to take? Is this stuff the norm for 'elite athletes'?

Aileen Reid
12-12-2007, 03:45 PM
I had the same problem. In the end I went to someone who looked at my leg length discrepancy - 3 cm and now I have to continually get my SI joints mainpulated - which I've been taught to do myself by adjusting my pubic symphysis.

So yes, I think a chiro would be in order. As others have said it can make a mess of you over time - mine did.

Michael McLeish
12-12-2007, 06:35 PM
OK, just got back from a 30 minute massage and a last-minute chiropractor appointment. I had the massage appointment already, but figured I'd do both back to back, given this morning's issues. At any rate, I did have a few things misaligned (lower back and upper neck), but it appeared the biggest culprit is tighness in my right hip (now I can't remember the exact name for the two tendons). The rotational mobility between my two legs was pretty significant. After a couple of good stretches, we were able to get about 80% of the discrepency in my right hip fixed (rotationally) - so there is some hope.

While I'm not really sure where to go from here, I think I'm going to step up the stretching pre/post workout and see if that fixes the problem a bit. My whole life I've never taken stretching all that seriously, it seems to be more of an issues as I age. Somedays I feel like I'm much older than 29, sheesh!

Shane Upchurch
12-12-2007, 07:44 PM
What is the pain like you are feeling in your squat and where do you feel it? I have similar issues to those your describing. After seeing your pics I reviewed a clip of myself squatting from behind and noticed similar issues with the offset to one side. My right hip almost always hurts during deep squats and Im not sure if its connected but my lower right back usually ends up sore as well. Sorry I cant really offer any advice to you, I've seen a PT for the back pain but not much was done that really helped. I plan on seeing a sports minded chiro once I get moved and settled in. Good Luck.

Lincoln Brigham
12-12-2007, 11:17 PM
A picture is worth a thousand words:
The bar is uneven because of uneven shoulder activation and because the hands are not centered over the midline; they are shifted left. The hips are shifted left and the right shoulder is more elevated than the left.

Craig Brown
12-13-2007, 07:04 AM
I found that there is a huge difference between chiros, masseurs, etc...and as I mentioned in another thread I now try to find athletic teams and get referrals. When I was ultra-running I ended up with a lifer track guy- when lifting originally a woman who had been chiro for the Ukrainian Oly teams...just try to find someone who understands what you do for fun!

Yoga is good as well, with the above caveats, and some quality time stretching. So is Tui Na massage.

I did a work related number on my scapular retractor years ago, and so got the workers comp physical therapy, with the end result that my pelvis was tilted in one direction while my shoulder (kind of obviously) tilted the other. And periodically my neck would just stop moving. Interestingly (and strangely not so obviously to many docs) working out with heavy things makes it all much better, assuming everything is tracking right at the start.


Michael McLeish
12-13-2007, 08:39 AM
Thanks for the info/analysis everyone! I'll try a few new things and up the stretching and let you know how things look in the future. I tried yoga once a few weeks before I started crossfit. Its tough in this area as there aren't that many choices for chiros, yoga, and massage...

Shane, the pain is a pretty sharp stab on the upper part of what I think is the hip flexor area. I don't know my anatomy&physiology very well, so I'm sorry about the bad descriptions. I put a small arrow on this picture to give you an idea. It is not on the front, nor on the side, but at the 45 degree angle from my front and about 1.5" down from the top of my waistband - make sense?


Joe DiStefano
12-15-2007, 12:39 PM

Your problems are an asymmetrical weight shift on your squat and the problem with your overhead squat is a lack of thoracic spine mobility/symmetry.

To fix this use a foam roll on your thoracic spine, spend about a minute going up and down about twice a day. Furthermore work on mobilizing your mid-upper back through seated rotations and supine leg drops...(lie on your back and drop your legs side to side without moving your torso. You should also lie on your side with knees bent and twist opening up your torso and leaving your legs flat on top of each other on the floor.

I'd also recommend getting your single leg squats close to equal before entering a squat rack. An asymmetry such as yours is guaranteed to cause micro trauma and stress your ligaments overtime promising injury.

Hope this helps.

Joe DiStefano

(my site is under construction but feel free to check it out next month for more tips and info ..... 'www.myfitpro.com')