….ways to fix your squat. I hear people saying that they can not squat because it hurts their knees or hurts their lower back or it hurts their right big toe. Yes, that may be the case. But what I picked up from strength coach Dan John is that the actual movement of squatting may not be the problem. It’s the way that you are executing the squat that is the problem. Hell, if your squat looks like this, yeah, it’s going to hurt.
Here are five ways to help fix your squat pattern.
- Increase ankle mobility. If your heels are coming up or you are getting to much forward lean as you descend into the squat chances are that your ankles are jammed up. It comes as no surprise with our poor choices of footwear or our tendency to ignore what’s going on down at the foot and ankle. To increase your ankle mobility prior to your strength session do some foam rolling or stick work through your lower leg and then follow that up with some ankle mobility exercises suck as ankle rocks.
- Loosen up the hip flexors. If you are not able to get good depth in your squat without a good amount of forward lean you may have some tight hip flexors. It’s no surprise considering what we do the majority of the day….sit. Also those who are tight through the hip flexor area tend not be able to recruit their glutes as much from what is referred to as reciprocal inhibition. If you want to squat well you have to use your glutes well. So as part of your warm up do some foam rolling though the hip flexor and TFL areas followed by some static stretching of the hip flexor area followed by some low level glute exercises (bridges, marching bridges or single leg bridges). Or between sets of squats you could perform some hip flexor mobilization exercises.
- Push the knees out. As you descend into the squat think about forcing your knees out and do the same thing on the way up. This will allow you to sink into your squat a bit better and also recruit your glutes that much more. Again, a good squat needs good glutes. If you are having trouble with this concept, as part of your warm up place a mini band around your knees and simply press out against the band as you squat. You should not allow the band to buckle your knees in and should really feel the glutes working.
- Chest Up. Your squat should not look like a deadlift. Or better yet it should not look like you are on your way doing to doing a face plant. Good squat technique will have a chest up, shoulders down and back posture to reinforce as much of a neutral spine posture as possible. Now some of you may have trouble getting into this position because of that evil movement pattern I mentioned before ….sitting. Sitting behind a desk or in a car for most of the day is not going to do nice things to your thoracic mobility. The ability to extend through the thoracic spine is just not there and should be worked on. Some good drills to work on your thoracic mobility are thoracic extensions on a foam roller, side lying extensions / rotations or quadruped extensions / rotations.
- Squat everyday. Yes, you heard that right. Squat everyday. I’m not talking about barbell squats or any other type of significantly loaded squat pattern. I’m just talking about the squat pattern itself. As part of your warm ups or as fillers between sets of exercises you could perform exercises such as squat to stands, regular old body weight squats or some light goblet squats to do the trick. This is another philosophy borrowed from Dan John who basically says if it’s important, do it everyday.