The squat is performed all over the world in gyms and off couches.
They are many variations: back squat, front squat, overhead squat, Goblet squat, box squat, safety bar squat and sumo squat to name a few. It's an awesome test of strength, control and flexibility.
There is a LOT of information out there about "the perfect squat" and what it should look like.
This article will discuss why some of this information is FALSE and what YOU can do to make your squat better
MYTH #1 - Feet Forwards "Feet forwards" might be a good cue for some people but definitely not the majority. Most people will be comfortable squatting with their feet turned out 20-30 degrees.
Although feet forward will reduce the incidence of a foot collapse, it will also increase the incidence of excessive foot supination too much pressure on the outside of the foot
Turning out 20-30 degrees will allow the foot to be planted in neutral where it's most powerful It also improves hip positioning, allowing for better depth and reducing the incidence of pinching hips.
Don't believe me? Try it out for yourself.
With our athletic clients, we use a simple "Hip Scour" to find the best position for the hip to be in during the squat. To perform this, lie on your back and flex one hip to your chest.
Begin to "scour" or circle the hip to find the position which is most comfortable (usually gives you most hip flexion range). This gives you an idea of the best squat width and foot position for YOUR body - it's not going to be the same for everyone! Pop on up and test your squat with the new stance
MYTH #2 - Knees Behind Toes The concern for forward translation of the knee is that it will give you knee pain. It's true that with increased knee-bending, knee joint and ACL stresses also increase. But it's important to consider the role of the hamstrings and posterior thigh during knee flexion.
These important group of muscles act to pull backwards on the shin and "balance" out the forces on the knee. If you initiate the squat with your knees bending first, you are likely not to be using your posterior thigh muscles to their potential... this will increase the pressure on your knee joints
If you initiate the squat with your hips, this will balance out the forces around your knee joint by loading your glutes and hamstrings first. Maybe that's why the best squatters have big butts?
It's impossible to keep your knees behind your toes for a full-depth squat without compensating in one way or another - common examples are going up on your toes, or by leaning your body forwards excessively.
Think about it: knees behind toes means your bodyweight is going backwards... so either you fall over on your butt, or you lean forwards a lot (or reach arms forward) to stay balanced.
For some of our clients, simply allowing them to let their knees go in front of their toes slightly improves their squat dramatically.
Check out this remarkable image below - it explains everything:
MYTH #3 - Knees Out! Last but not least, "knees out" is a common cue that we hear everyday at the gym.
Its intention is to prevent the knee from collapsing inwards during the squat which increases stress on the medial aspect of the knee. But there are a couple problems: 1. If cued for the wrong athlete, it will cause him/her to excessively supinate the foot 2.
Can cause excessive tibial torsion rather than its intended hip rotation Both of these things can cause the knees to hurt during the squat You'll know this cue is for you if you feel excessive pressure on the inner side of your foot/heel or big toe, or your knees travel towards each other (uncontrolled) during the squat.
A cue that I've found to work better is "open your groin" (borrowed and modified from one of the best Powerlifters ever, Ed Coan) in order to activate the deep rotators of the hip rather than the lateral thigh (tight ITB and hamstrings, anyone?)
However, if you don't have a medial foot/knee collapse, DO NOT use this cue when squatting! This is a really common misinterpretation that can negatively impact your performance.
Here is the amazing Barbell Physio himself, Dr Zach Long, demonstrating this idea. It's hard to see with shoes on but he has more weight towards the outside of his feet by overdoing the "knees out" cue. Note: Zach is doing this intentionally to educate his readers in his EXCELLENT blog post here (https://www.thebarbellphysio.com/the-truth-about-squat-depth-injury-rates-the-knees-out- cue/)
Do any of these apply to you?
There is no one-size-fits-all method to coaching and treating injuries - each athlete is different and must be coached differently!
The BEST way to see if any of these corrections are appropriate for you is by TESTING them under a light/no load. If you liked this content, feel free to drop us a Like and follow us on Facebook @ActivTherapyCasula for the latest updates.
About the Author:
Welcome the the Activ Therapy Blog.