View Full Version : Upper back pain during squats

Greg Battaglia
06-11-2008, 11:42 AM
My girlfriend has been having upper back pain (just below the shoulder blades) during bodyweight squats. She has been doing the bodyweight routine on simplefit.org in preparation for starting crossfit. She's currently on Level 4 of the workout progressions. She explains her pain as being a feeling of pressure towards the end of the eccentric phase of the movement (a deep squat position) and a feeling of giving out or falling. She babysits disabled kids and carries them up stairs which I think is creating the pain (poor form maybe?). She's pretty small (5 foot even and 98 lbs) and the kids are about 90 lbs themselves. I showed her how to use proper form while lifting the kids, but it hasn't seemed to have helped much.

Anyone have any ideas for correcting this? I want to have this resolved before even considering weighted squats.

Garrett Smith
06-11-2008, 01:49 PM
Try Robb Wolf's exercises from his Kyphosis PMenu article and/or have her go see a chiro. Those are the easy places to start.

Greg Battaglia
06-11-2008, 04:33 PM
Thank you. Do you remember which PM issue it was from by any chance?

Allen Yeh
06-11-2008, 06:30 PM

Try those things out for at least a few weeks and let us know how it goes. I have a few other things rattling around in my head as well.

She only feels the pain when? During all squats? After a period of time? Intermittently? What have you already tried with her to alleviate the pain? Is the same pain there if you elevate the arms? Where are her arms when she is doing BW squats?(hips? in front of her...etc)

How is her posture? It seems to me the majority of women develop bad posture.

Garrett Smith
06-12-2008, 05:56 AM
It's in the free articles section...

Greg Battaglia
06-12-2008, 01:59 PM
Dr. G,
Thanks, saved me some cash.


The pain occurs when she drops into a deep squat, every time. There is no pain if she only goes parallel. She keeps her hands in front of her during the squats to maintain balance. She actually has exceptionally good posture. Better than most women, She always stands with her back straight and doesn't slouch. She does, however, sit a lot, so that could be a factor. Thanks for the thorough questions. I'm interested to hear your response.

Steven Low
06-12-2008, 04:36 PM
Any chance you can get a picture of the squat.. as well as a side/front/back view of posture? Highlighted where it hurts of course.

Greg Battaglia
06-16-2008, 05:46 PM
I took a pic of her doing the squats. When she comes over tomorrow I'll grab her camera and post the pics. How would I highlight stuff? Photoshop?

Also, I had her do the exercises from the article today and her flexibility was pretty good. She had a bit of trouble with the shoulder dislocates (she had to bend her arms slightly to get the bar all the way back) but her overhead squat flexibility was excellent with good form. She did say that the exercises didn't seem to be working the affected area, but I'm not sure if that's necessarily indicative of ineffectiveness or inappropriate exercises.

I'll have them pics up tomorrow, talk to you soon.

Greg Battaglia
06-17-2008, 03:19 PM
Here's the pic:

http://C:\Documents and Settings\Alexis\My Documents\My Pictures\Adobe\Digital Camera Photos\2008-06-17-1810-05\100_0034.jpg

I couldn't highlight the area, but the pain is muscular, in the rhomboid area, just below the shoulder blades, near the spine. She says it hurts only when doing repeated rounds of low reps.

For example, 20 mins max rounds of:
2 pull-ups
5 push-ups
12 squats

If she does a workout where she simply does the squats consecutively, then moves on to the next exercise she has no pain at all.

For example, for time:
16 pull-ups
33 push-ups
33 squats

She has no pain with this workout. I'm not sure if the pain in the longer 20 minute workout is due to the sheer volume of the workout compared to the latter workout, or if it's due to the sequence of the exercises.

Let me know what you think. Thanks

Steven Low
06-17-2008, 06:03 PM
Pic don't work. :(

Upload to a filehost/imagehost (such as imageshack.us).

Greg Battaglia
07-09-2008, 07:20 AM

Your response to my other post just reminded me about this one. My apologies, my girl was at the shore and then in vegas and brought her camera so I was unable to post the pic. She's coming over today for a workout, so I'll post the pic then.


she hasn't had any pain recently, but I think it will still be helpful to find out what was/is wrong.


Greg Battaglia
07-12-2008, 05:04 PM
Here it is...again the pain is in the upper back in the rhomboids between the shoulder blades.


Steven Low
07-12-2008, 05:34 PM
Looks like pretty good form.

To be honest, I was hoping for like some type of picture marking where the pain was in relation to the scapulae....

With most females it tends to be because of weak rhomboids/lower-mid traps which ends up being rounded shoulder posture. Probably from the aforementioned khyphosis stuff. I'd work on more rowing type exercises to strengthen up the area. That'll probably fix it indefinitely.

Greg Battaglia
07-14-2008, 07:56 AM
Thanks Steven.

I'll keep her working on those exercises and toss in some rows, emphasizing scapular retraction.

I appreciate the input, and sorry again for taking so long to post the pic.