Change Up Squat Your Stance
“Feet straight ahead, knees do not go past your toes!” This phrase has definitely been around for a long time and still used to today by coaches everywhere when “fixing your squat”. Maybe this squat form is not the best for you? We all move differently with different bone structures. Your thigh bones may be longer than your workout partner’s; their shin bones may be longer than yours. Based on those assumptions, your squats probably will look different. Fixing your squat becomes more nuanced than just a simple cue that applies to everyone. One of the biggest factors to change up is how far apart your feet are from each other. Based on how the sockets in your hip formed as you grew and what activities you have done you may need a more narrow or wide stance than what you may have thought. Some people have no problem with having their feet right under their shoulders, but some feel a world of difference just by sliding their feet outward one to two inches.
Heel Lifts For Fixing Your Squat
One reason you may not be achieving the “glutes to the ground” form is your ankle mobility. Adding a heel lift in your shoes may be the simple fix you need. For some reason, people see this method as cheating, but if you watch Olympic Weightlifters they are all wearing lifting shoes. These specific shoes have a heel lift built into them to eliminate the ankle stiffness altogether fixing your squat. If you have never seen the depth these athletes get, do a quick Youtube search. Using five pounds metal plates placed under your heels could be a quick screen to see if a heel lift would help your deep squat be more efficient. You could spend time working on ankle mobility, but that takes WAY more time and reps than you think. Also your body may use the stiffness of your ankles for other activities such as jumping while playing basketball or volleyball. Just keep that in mind as your workouts should help your life not change your activities.
Practice Makes Perfect
Squatting is part of life, deep squatting for most is a skill. Now this can change based on career or cultures, but for most people we are not deep squatting throughout the day. Just like with any skill, you need to practice. Spend time in the bottom of the squat with and without weight. Your brain plays a role in any new skill you are trying to acquire. Practicing using hand support while increasing depth is a way to control the load felt through the hips, knees, and ankles. Pretty soon this practice should take the shape of your warm up for your workouts.
Fixing Your Squat When In Pain
One of the common complaints with squatting is pain in the front of the hip. Remember, we just talked about how we are all built differently, so maybe a quick fix is changing your stance or adding a heel lift. Pain that lasts longer than one or two reps, may be an injury. Changing the depth of your squat for a couple days may alleviate this pain. Going from zero or very minimal squatting to four days in a row of attempting to deep squat, more than likely will cause some aches and pains. Driving your knees outward as you lower to the ground and as you return to a starting position can also help. If low back , hip, knee, or ankle pain is not getting better in one to two weeks, maybe it is time to contact your local physical therapist and schedule a visit to clear up the pain and get you back to dropping it low. When talking about the lower limbs and a skillful movement such as the deep squat, assessments may need to be done in other areas. Think of your leg as a chain, you want to be sure all of the links are working the way they should!
“Butt-Wink?” What is that?
In recent years the dreaded “butt-wink” has come and gone in terms of low back pain and squat dysfunction. This phenomenon occurs in squatting to people with varying levels. As you sit lower in your squat your low back may round slightly; video yourself and find out or have a friend watch! While the cause of this is debated in the medical and fitness communities, the research says it may not really matter. New information sheds light that even when you try and correct it, your lower back will still flex, or round forward to some degree and THAT IS OKAY. There are tons of components that may play into the posterior tilting of your pelvis, so when should you address it? Easy, when it hurts.
Get Help Fixing Your Squat
You’re welcome to contact us if you’re having difficulty with squat depth or pain when squatting. Check out our website at Peak Physiotherapy and Performance, speak with one of our doctors by filling out our Free Phone Consultation form. We can wait to help you get back to training without pain!