Pain and tightness in the low back is something almost 100% of athletes will experience. This can lead to missing practice, lifting sessions, and playing time. Not to mention the long term effects of chronic back pain later in life. However squats are a staple in almost all lifting programs. Studies have shown that improving the strength per pound ratio of a squat correlates to the speed of an athlete. Increasing the strength of the muscle allows an athlete to put more force into the ground, therefore that athlete has the potential to increase his/her speed. The question is how can coaches implement effective squatting patterns while minimizing spinal loading?

There are many options to de-load the lumbar spine, but few as effective as the Pit Shark Belt Squat. Using a belt to load through the hips greatly reduces the stress of the lumbar vertebrae allowing athletes who have pain, tightness or injury to still train using a squat pattern. Another way to target the squat pattern while reducing spinal load is performing iso-lateral or single leg exercises such as a split squat. Taking stress off the spine could not only increase the longevity of that athletes career but also the longevity of his/her overall health.

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Coaches also need to look into what is actually causing the tightness or pain instead of just trying to work around it. Simply massaging the soft tissue and muscles such as the Psoas, which directly inserts into the lumbar spine, could be the solution to relieving the athletes tightness in the low back. Watch here as Ted Rath demonstrates some of his solutions to this common problem.

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