We are all told to use our legs to lift but every day we see our patients have trouble performing a good deep squat. This is even in those that exercise regularly. Now there are a bunch of different things that can happen to limit squat range but I wanted to focus on one of the most common one that we see. Before I do that, it's important to understand why it's important. What is the benefit of having a good squat?
Well to start with, those that aren't able to squat still need to perform daily activities like getting in/out of a chair or of a car or picking something off the floor that are similar functional movements. Those that arent able to squat properly are using a different movement pattern to achieve those tasks. Often using more of the lower back extensors (leading to low back pain). Another reason is that the factors needed to squat also relate to other day to day tasks like climbing stairs, walking, mopping or climbing a ladder. If you're squat isn't right then whatever is causing that is probably also affecting other daily movements.
So what's holding back your squat? Yes it could be weakness in your thigh muscles but usually its something you might not expect. Stiffness in the upper back, difficulty bracing the core/trunk muscles, weak glute control and internal rotation of the hips are all causes that we see.
The one I wanted to focus on and something we see frequently is the lack of ankle range of movement. An inability to dorsiflex (which is the action of bringing your shin forward while standing) can limit how far your knees can come forward which means your centre of gravity cant remain forward as you squat. This usually results in not being able to go too deep with your knees and hips and compensation by bending way too far forward with your back.
So what can you look out for? The 5 most common things that might mean a lack of ankle range is holding back your squat are:
Have a look out and if you have any of these and find yourself with aches and pains in your back, knees or hips then a complete assessment by a physiotherapist of chiropractor can help figure it out.
Welcome the the Activ Therapy Blog.