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Squat Injuries-You Mean Lifting Large Amounts of Weight with your Spine is a Bad Idea?

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squat injuriesSquat injuries? We frequently see low back pain patients who injure themselves performing a squat lift, where the weight lifting bar is held by the shoulders and neck and a squat-type movement is performed. Squats and dead lifts  (where the athlete bends forward and lifts a barbell to a standing position), are the most common weight lifting injuries that cause chronic low back problems. Being a weight lifter, I too have suffered from the dreaded squat and dead lift syndrome. Several years ago, while working out with a trainer and performing a dead lift, I heard a pop, went down, and could barely make it to the parking lot. Thankfully, my partner Dr. Schultz got me in for a quick epidural and I was able to get back to lifting by week’s end. However, these weight lifting moves continue to cause concern. Recently a paper was published where the authors performed x-rays of the spine while subjects were performing squats. What they found was concerning. The sacrum quickly and dramatically shifted it’s position to put severe stress on the pars interarticularis (literally in Latin “the part between the joints). This piece of bone is an important part of the vertebra and can be fractured easily in adolescents and young adults, leading to a chronically unstable spine. These different types of squat injuries are noted as the number one cause of chronic low back pain in squat related injuries. The upshot? There are many great body weight exercises to build a strong core and legs. If you want to become good friends with a spine specialist, continue the squats and dead lifts!

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