Common problems with the SQUAT (& how to fix them)
The squat is one of the fundamental exercises that we should all be doing in our workouts.
Not only does it help build and maintain muscle and tone in your lower half but you’ll also burn loads of Calories as well as moving through functional ranges of movement which will help you maintain mobility through later life.
The problem is.. people are still doing it wrong! Believe it or not, we've even seen Personal Trainers posting poor squat techniques on social media.. So here’s how..
1. Stand with your feet hip hip-width apart or slightly wider if you’re feeling tight in the legs.
2. Bend at the knees and hips, sending your bum backwards to sit on the invisible chair behind you.
3. Keep knees aligned with your feet.
4. Once your thighs become parallel to the ground (knees bent at 90 degrees), contract your bum muscles and press through your heels to stand back up.
You should be keeping your weight through your heels, chest up and back nice and flat as in the image above.
Things to avoid:
1. Knees collapsing inwards.
If your knees collapse inwards during the squat, you’re risking damaging your knees with every rep. The reason this happens is down to poor mobility in the hips as well as disengaged glutes. In order to avoid the knees collapsing (known as valgus stance), we must stretch off the adductors and activate and strengthen the glutes. Once we’ve gained proper hip mobility and glute engagement, you’ll be squatting with your knees perfectly aligned!
2. Heels off the ground.
If your heels are coming off the ground when you’re squatting there’s a high chance that you’re not using the right muscles for the movement. When your weight transfers to the toes and off the heels we start to disengage the glutes and the quads start to get more involved. Whilst this isn’t the end of the world for those quad muscles, it is pretty bad for your butt. When you use your quads more than your glutes in the squat, we’re selling ourselves short by not stimulating all the available muscle.
So why does this happen? Normally it’s down to a combination of factors including lack of hip and ankle flexion which can actually be easily adjusted. If your hips aren’t mobile enough, then you’ll compensate by transferring your weight forward to your toes and if you’ve got tight calves or poor ankle flexion you’ll not be able to keep your heels down.
3. Leaning Forward
This is one of the more common mistakes, squats performed with excessive lumbar flexion characterised by the chest facing the floor. Squatting with this technique will put a lot of stress on the lower back, especially when loaded, potentially resulting in lumbar disc damage.. basically you can mess up your lower back!
Now before we move into the mobility aspect, there’s a super quick fix for this- the elevated squat.
By starting with your heels elevated your ankles are already in plantar flexion meaning you’ve got a bigger range of movement in the ankle especially at the bottom of the squat- give it a go next time!
So how do you stop your heels from coming off the floor when you squat?
- Start by stretching the calf muscles!
Increasing your calf flexibility will allow your ankles to move without restriction, allowing your heels to stay down! Engaging the glutes will also help keep your weight back, but in order to engage the glutes we must also put the weight into the heels, so once you've achieved ankle mobility you can start to think about sitting back into the squat.
You can also use some hip flexor exercises to help you achieve proper hip flexion without leaning too far forward- try the seated hip march below:
Perform 10 seated hip marches on each side and then try the squat again to see the difference!
Engaging the glute muscles will help your squat technique too! Try the following exercises to ensure your glutes are properly working before you start your squats.
If you're still struggling with the squat, all you need to do is book in a free trial session and visit our Hove studio to perfect your squats!
Click here to book your FREE TRIAL for January!
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