Whether wanting to improve your squats at the gym or you just want to be able to get down to tie your shoelaces..the squat is a movement everyone should master. It is one of most common functional movements we will assess when people come in to see us and there are 2 main reasons for this:
- Squatting is one of the fundamental movement patterns that we are required to do as part of our everyday routines. For example getting up from bed, sitting down and standing up from the breakfast table, going up/down stairs, lifting, getting down to the floor – all of these activities involve the squatting movement pattern
- It involves many different body parts to work properly together and so your squatting movement pattern can give us a lot of information about what is going on through various muscles and joints in your body
So let’s have a look at the “perfect squat” and break down what needs to happen in order for us to get there.
The funny thing is..there was once upon a time that we could all achieve the perfect squat! Here’s the top 5 things you need to get to the full squat:
1. Ankle Mobility
For good weight distribution through your squat you need to be able to keep your heels on the ground and this requires ankle dorsiflexion and good calf flexibility.
How do I improve this?
Ankle Dorsiflexion – you can also add a powerband for extra mobility
2. Hip Hinge
We see it often that people tend to squat only through bending their knees and not at the hips. This can lead to excessive load through the knees and even cause pain. This can be prevented by ensuring the hips have enough flexion (bending) movement and that we are using our Glutes (buttock muscles). Our Gluteus Maximus muscle is the biggest in our bodies so let’s put it to work!
How do I improve this?
Hip Flexion Mobility
Glute strengthening – Bridge and Bulgarian Split Squat
3. Thoracic Mobility
The middle and upper back has a very large part to play in a squat. If we are stiff here this affects our ability to keep our chest up and remain upright.
How can I improve this?
Thoracic Extension over Foam Roller and Pectoral/Chest Stretch
4. Lumbopelvic Control
Being aware of and able to control the position of your lower back and pelvis is essential for a comfortable squat. This exercise is great for practicing this. You want to ensure that you are finding and maintaining neutral position ie. Not overarching or rounding through your back.
4 Point Rocking
5. Motor Control
Or in other words a good movement pattern to put it all together! A great way to practice is using the TRX Suspension Straps as they will help you to get your weight backwards and keep you balanced.
Try these exercises yourself and you will feel the difference with your squat. As always if you are unsure it is best to let your Physio guide you. Happy squatting!