A common question when it comes to using a loaded barbell is, “Why Do Squats Hurt My Tailbone?”
Squats are without doubt one of the greatest exercises ever (if not the greatest).
However, from time-to-time we all experience certain issues with the movement.
Possibly, one of most annoying, and worrying, is when you feel a pain in your tailbone whenever you squat.
So, allow me to explain what is happening here and how you can fix this.
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Why Do Squats Hurt My Tailbone?
There are various reasons why squats hurt your tailbone. Firstly, you should ensure that your core is contracted throughout your set, which will provide support for your lower back. You should also squeeze your glutes really hard when you squat, as the gluteus maximus is one of the major muscles attached to the tailbone. If you have weak core or glute muscles then you won’t be able to provide sufficient support and stabilization to the coccyx. Furthermore, if you allow your back to round at the bottom of the squat you will be placing the tailbone under additional stress.
1. You’re Not Contracting Your Core
I honestly believe that one of the main reasons for aches and pains when performing any exercise is because you haven’t contracted your core.
For me, every single movement we make originates from the core.
It doesn’t matter if you’re walking, running, standing up, sitting down, and of course squatting, your core is involved.
So, when it comes to performing an exercise it makes perfect sense that your core should be stimulated and activated first.
And this is especially true when it comes to squats.
By contracting and stabilizing your core before you perform squats, you are in effect providing protection for your lower back.
You’re about to place a heavy load across the back of your shoulders, and then perform a movement which will compress the spine.
So, it makes perfect sense to have some form of “protection” in place.
And the easiest way to do this is to contract your core muscles and keep them tight throughout your entire set.
2. You Have Weak Core Muscles
Now it’s all well-and-good contracting the core muscles prior to squats, but if you’re weak in this area you’re likely to feel the movement in your tailbone.
I’ve already mentioned that practically every single activity we perform initially emanates from the core.
However, if your core muscles are weak this will obviously have an impact on everything you do.
One of the major effects of weak core muscles is that it can lead to poor posture.
And poor posture can further deplete the strength of your core.
So, in effect, it’s a vicious circle.
When it comes to squatting, both weak core muscles and poor posture will typically place additional stress on your lower back.
In reality, you simply don’t have the strength to carry a loaded bar, never mind perform squats with it.
So, if you’re feeling squats in your tailbone it’s probably time to work on strengthening your core.
3. You’re Not Contracting Your Glutes
I would generally include the glutes as part of the core.
However, as the glutes play such a major role in squats, I felt it only fair to discuss them separately.
Squats are generally viewed primarily as a quad exercise, but they also work the glutes and hamstrings too.
In fact, many of you may centre your glute workouts around initially performing squats.
Much the same as your core, you should also look to contract the glutes when squatting.
Not only will this provide additional support for your lower back, but it also helps to engage the glutes more as well.
So, prior to performing your set of squats squeeze the glutes really hard.
You should actually feel your tailbone literally pop out (in a good way) and this will ensure that your coccyx and lower back in general are well-supported.
4. You Have Weak Glutes
Once again, I can talk all I want about contracting the glutes prior to squats, but weak glutes will definitely have an effect on your lower back stability.
The gluteus maximus happens to be one of the major muscle groups that is attached to the coccyx.
Plus, it also happens to be the largest muscle in the human body.
So, regardless of whether you’re squatting or simply going about your daily activities, it’s important to have strong glutes.
In fact, weak glutes can once more affect your posture, which as we now know can also have an impact on your core muscles.
There are various exercises, both bodyweight and resistance-based, that you can perform to strengthen your glutes.
However, these are often ignored in favour of simply relying on squats and deadlifts to work the glutes.
Now both these “big exercises” will certainly train the glutes, but there is definitely more that you could be doing.
5. You’re Allowing Your Back to Round at the Bottom
Your squat technique could be the reason that you’re feeling it in your tailbone.
As simple an exercise as the squat is to execute, it is typically massacred in gyms all around the world.
I would go as far to say that I have seen far more people perform squats badly than I have with perfect form.
And this is pretty terrible when you consider it’s one of the major human movement patterns.
You’ll typically see people squatting with more weight than they can handle.
Then there’s the abundance of half and quarter squats.
You’ll see feet too close, feet too far apart, and even the feet pointing inwards or too far outwards.
However, a major flaw with squats is the back either hyperextending or rounding.
When the back hyperextends or curves, this is usually a sign that the torso hasn’t remained as upright as it should.
In fact, your upper body position is more reminiscent of a Romanian deadlift.
Then again, perhaps you’re rounding your back, which once again leads to an incorrect torso position, but it also places a great deal of stress on the lower back.
My recommendation would be to immediately reduce the weight on the bar and work on squatting with a more upright torso and neutral spine.
Fixing Your Squat
6. You’re Not Breathing Correctly
How you breathe during squats can definitely have an effect on your tailbone, and your overall technique.
Now that probably sounds a little weird, so bear with me on this.
Simply put, the way you breathe during squats will help with how tight you keep your core.
And as we now know, this is a major part of protecting your lower back, and therefore not feeling your tailbone during squats.
There is a tendency to sometimes hold your breath as you approach the end of your set and fatigue starts to set in.
Then again, there are those who breathe quickly and heavily, almost as though swift breathing will somehow make the set end faster.
Both of these incorrect breathing techniques will actually make it much harder for you to keep your core contracted.
Basically, your core muscles are literally fighting against the lack of oxygen your body’s receiving.
So, always ensure that your breathing remains slow, controlled, and constant whenever you squat.
You should take a deep breath in as you squat down, and then exhale as you come back up.
7. Have You Injured Your Tailbone?
I guess the most obvious explanation for the pain is that you’ve injured your tailbone somehow.
And often this may have even happened without you actually realising it.
I know I’ve definitely experienced this myself, and typically outside the gym environment.
There have been times when I’ve either been playing sports or even just mucking about acting immature, and I’ve taken a fall.
This usually involves landing straight on my butt, or so I think.
However, this will usually mean that I have landed straight on my tailbone.
The pain feels excruciating at the time, and it certainly takes a few days to go away.
But, the bruising to my tailbone typically stays for a fair few weeks.
And it is this bruising that is causing the pain whenever you squat.
Basically, you’re activating various muscles attached to and around the tailbone, and this can cause slight friction against your bruised coccyx.
And this is generally quite painful.
So, it may be time for some rest and recuperation.
And of course, if the pain persists, it’s time to make an appointment with your Doctor.
Tailbone (Coccyx) Pain Relief
The main reasons squats hurt your tailbone will be down to your core and glutes. Either you’re not contracting these muscles, or you have a weakness in one or both. You should also ensure that you squat with good form and don’t allow your back to round at the bottom of the movement. It’s also important to breathe correctly, as this provides additional support for your core muscles.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.