Where To Start When Fixing Your Squat?
The squat is one of the most fundamental human movements we are capable of. The crazy thing is that there are a lot of people out there that are not able to perform a basic, full range of motion, bodyweight squat. If you are one of those people, it’s okay, it’s not your fault. Our cozy, comfortable world has been designed around us to make things easier and minimize the amount of movement needed to perform everyday activities. Wherever you are with your squat ability, here are a few simple checks you can use to improve your mobility and strength.
Each picture gives a few points to help you check your position. There are also some tests to check if the area you feel is limiting you is in fact the area that needs correcting.
The four different body components that will be focused on. The feet, knees (leg alignment), hip movement (hip hinge), and the spine (trunk position)
Foot position: a grounded and stable foot position is the foundation of a squat. We refer to the term “tripod foot” to describe grounding through the two sides of the forefoot (1 & 2) and the base of the heel (3). The three points making up the tripod foot.
Leg alignment: here we are aiming for the shins to track through the center of the feet (roughly between the 2nd & 3rd toes).
Keeping the spine “long and strong” is a cue I find works well with people I am training. Keeping your chest facing forward and squeezing your ribs down with a braced core will help you keep a good, stable trunk position during the squat.
Now that we know the positions and techniques that we’re looking for in a good bodyweight squat, let’s look at a few things that may be causing you some problems during your squat.
Here you will see that my right knee is collapsing inward. This could be because of a few different reasons but one of the most common is an instability in the right foot/ankle. This causes the knee to collapse and could cause further issues in the knee, hip, and even lower back if not corrected.
Notice here how my spine is flexing, meaning that my chest and shoulders are collapsing downward due to the core not being braced. There is a loss of integrity through the trunk. This can cause problems such as back pain at different levels, neck, and hip pain, to name a few.
From these common instabilities, mobility, and movement control faults, you will get an idea of patterns that you have that need to be corrected. Once you’ve recognized where you can improve your squat or the area that might be the root cause of pain that you’re experiencing during your squat, you’ll be able to correct it and feel way better in this amazing position that is so very important to our body’s overall health and longevity. Not to mention the strength benefits of having a full range of motion squat.
Here are a few tests you can do yourself to pinpoint exactly where your movement patterns can be improved.
Ankle mobility test:
Stand in a split stance with your legs. One foot 10cm away from the wall and the other on the ball of your foot, like a lunge position. Keep your front foot flat, push your knee toward the wall, keeping it in line and tracking with your foot. If you are able to touch your knee to the wall then your ankle mobility is most likely enough to squat. Be sure to compare left to right as they may be different and it might only be one side that needs to be improved.
If you are unable to touch the wall with your knee or if you are unable to keep your knee from collapsing in order to get your knee toward the wall then you may need to work on your ankle and foot mobility.
Single leg squat test:
Standing on any small step on one leg. Straighten the other leg throughout the movement. Squat down no more than halfway and press back up. Repeat 4-5 repetitions. If you are able to maintain 1) a stable foot/ankle, 2) knee-foot alignment, and 3) neutral hips (stop the opposite hip from collapsing), then your stability and control is likely not the main issue affecting your squat. If your 1) foot/ankle collapses or rolls inward, 2) your knee collapses inward, causing misalignment between your leg and foot, or 3) your opposite hip drops down, showing instability from your hips, then it is a control and/or strength issue that needs to be addressed in one of these areas. Be sure to compare left to right as they may be different and it might only be one side that needs to be improved.
If you are not sure where your issue lies and want some more advice on how to fix your squat then punch in your email address under Contact on the menu bar letting me know what you’re looking for and I’ll give you a call for free. Alternatively, video yourself and direct message it to me on Instagram. @rowenbrownmovement