Front Squats vs. Back Squats: What’s the Difference?

Squats vs. Back Squats

Front Squats vs. Back Squats: What’s the Difference?

Squats are a common way to tone the legs and glutes while simultaneously toning the arms with added weights. There are some common rumors that float around about squats – “they’re bad for the knees,” “doing too many will create too much bulk,” “the weights are hard on the wrists,” etc. However, it is time we put these rumors to rest. When performed correctly, squats are completely safe and they can provide some of the best physical results. Squats are a great exercise for building core and lower body strength, improving speed, and even supporting improved dexterity, making it possible to jump higher, faster, and farther than before.

If your form is incorrect, squats can certainly take a toll on your body, much like any other exercise. Consulting with a physiotherapist can help you learn proper form and technique for performing squats correctly. Front squats and back squats both have their own pros and cons, and it is important to know the difference between the two so you can learn how to do both of them the right way.

How to do a front squat:

The first step to doing a proper front squat is placing the barbell across the front of your shoulders, just below your neck. Make sure your fingertips are underneath the barbell, just outside your shoulder width. Your elbows should form a sharp point. Keeping your chest up and your core tight, begin to lower yourself toward the floor using your hips and knees. Keep lowering yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then hold the position for a few seconds. Slowly bring yourself back up to a standing position using your hips and knees once again.

How to do a back squat:

The fundamentals of a back squat are the same as a front squat. You move your body in the same motion for both, bending at your hips and knees until your thighs are parallel with the ground, and then slowly returning to a standing position. The biggest difference of a front squat and a back squat is the way in which you hold the barbell.

While a front squat requires holding the barbell in front of your shoulders, a back squat requires holding the barbell OVER your shoulders, just behind your neck. One of the most imperative parts of a back squat is making sure the weight is not resting on your neck at all, as that can lead to neck pain or injury. Instead, make sure the barbell is being held on your shoulders and that you keep your chest up so your neck doesn’t hunch forward during the squat. Attempting to lift too much weight and accidentally relying on your neck instead of your shoulders could lead to severe injury.

Adding weight:

Front and back squats can be done with or without weights added to the barbell. It is also possible to perform squats with hand weights or kettlebells if you desire to do so. If you decide to add more weight, make sure you are comfortable holding the additional weight on your shoulders before you do the squat. If it feels too heavy on your shoulders beforehand, be sure to remove some, in order to avoid unnecessary injury. If you are just getting started, doing a squat without weight is a good way to become familiar with the movement and to prepare your muscles for the activity without adding too much intensity at once.

Improving technique:

Having proper technique while doing a squat is extremely important, especially if you are holding extra weight. A physiotherapist can help you improve your form and technique in order to achieve optimum results and prevent the risk of injury. Physiotherapy treatments can also provide additional tips and techniques for building muscle strength and increasing your range of motion.

If you are looking to improve your technique, or you’d like to learn more about adding squats to your exercise regimen, contact NRG Athletes Therapy Fitness today. We’ll create a personalized exercise plan for you to reach your goals and maintain your peak level of physical performance!

4 Ways to Reduce Pain and Gain Energy

Do you constantly find yourself feeling tired throughout the day? Sluggish? Achy? Fatigued? If so, this is probably your body’s way of telling you that something is off. Perhaps you sit too much during your commute or throughout the day, without getting up to stretch and exercise. Perhaps you’re eating too much inflammatory food or not drinking enough water. Whatever the case may be, if you are constantly feeling physically or mentally drained, it is a good idea to make some healthy changes.

Below you’ll find four quick ways to reduce any aches and pains your body may be feeling, and gain more energy in the process. There are multiple ways to integrate these tips into your life, and if you’d like more in-depth assistance, contact NRG Athletes Therapy Fitness today!

1. Create a treatment plan with a physiotherapist.

Physiotherapy may feel difficult when you are in pain or fatigued, but it could be essential in providing relief and helping to gain more energy. A physiotherapist is trained in helping you move safely and regain function, and treatments have proven successful for relieving all chronic musculoskeletal and neuropathic types of pain. If you have become weaker due to lack of movement, a physiotherapist will also help in strengthening weak muscles.

Some common pain relief methods that physiotherapists provide include:

  • Manual therapy using hands and tools on soft tissue
  • Ice and heat therapies
  • Massage
  • Joint and bone manipulation
  • Movement therapy and exercise
  • Microcurrent stimulation
  • Aquatic therapy
  • Cold laser therapy

2. Modify your diet.

Did you know 8 out of 10 people experience frequent back pain? In fact, chronic back pain affects roughly 116 million adults in the United States. For many of those people, the cause of their back pain is a direct result of their diet. The foods we eat can trigger inflammation, which can cause pain.

If your diet is causing your back pain, it could be beneficial to modify some aspects of it. While you do not necessarily have to reduce your food intake, you may want to shift around what you are eating. Below is a list of foods that may help you feel more energized if you choose to incorporate them into your regular diet:

  • Foods that are high in fiber. According to the Arthritis Foundation, adding fiber will reduce inflammation in many cases. Fusing a high-fiber diet with more healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can lead to pain relief and reduced weight.
  • Ginger. Ginger is universally known for the magic it has on stomach aches, but most people don’t know that it is a natural anti-inflammatory! It acts as a natural aspirin impersonator, reducing inflammation and providing relief.
  • Cherries. There are compounds in cherries called “anthocyanins” that reduce pain in two ways: inhibiting pain enzymes and blocking inflammation.
  • Turmeric. Tumeric is a curry spice that is packed with curcumin, a natural pain reliever and inflammation reducer that has been used to treat pain for ages.

3. Make an effort to exercise.

Exercising isn’t always easy, especially if you are exhausted or in pain. Finding the strength and energy to exercise can prove challenging when all you want to do is curl up in a ball and sleep. However, physical activity is crucial to your well-being, especially if you live a sedentary lifestyle. Make an effort to walk for at least 30 minutes each day, or sprinkle in short, intense workouts several times a week. Whatever you may choose to do, allow your body enough time to recover between exercise sessions, in order to notice maximized benefits.

4. Adjust your workstation.

Depending on how your desk is set up, it could be aggravating your pain and draining your energy – not to mention the possibility of causing postural imbalances. When you set up a workstation, it is important to keep this 4-step ergonomic checklist in mind:

  1. Make sure that your chair is at a height where your feet can remain comfortably flat on the ground. Both your upper and lower back should be supported by your desk chair, and your armrests should be at a height where your shoulders can rest relaxed.
  2. Your keyboard should remain directly in front of your body at all times. This allows your elbows to open at a 100-degree angle and your shoulders to relax.
  3. Position the top of your monitor so it is approximately 2-3 inches above your seated eye level.
  4. Approximately every 20 minutes, make sure you take 1-2 minute stretch breaks to loosen up muscles and enhance circulation.

If you are still in pain despite these tips, contact NRG Athletes Therapy Fitness today. One of our dedicated physiotherapists will provide you with the resources you need to gain more energy and live a pain-free life.