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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Squatting: Do's and Don'ts

By: Joel Luedke

I was listening to Barbell Shrugged and there would talking to the creator of The Movement Fix and Fitness Pain Free.  In this conversation they started talking about squat form and what is "good" squat form and what isn't.  I was really hoping to gather some very deep insight into the squat as these are some great minds when it comes to training and that they would have some tips that I could implement into what we do at UW-La Crosse and my own personal squat.


In the whole conversation there was an overlying theme...you have to squat how it works best for you and how your body moves.  There appears to be some general guidelines we should all follow but how the squat is actually performed is highly individual.  Everyone's body structure is different.  Femurs can be longer or shorter, how the femur sits in your hip joint, the motion at your ankles and many other factors.


We aren't going to try and explain the perfect squat in this article but we are going to try and hit some highlights of the "Do's and Don'ts":

The Do's
-Break and the Hips First: Letting your hips go first allows you to load your glutes and posterior chain and take extra stress off your knees. While this also helps you take stress off your knees but it can also increase your strength output.
-Find Where Your Feet are Comfortable: I typically start with 10-15deg of rotation out (external) to allow for easy knee tracking and keeping your hips engaged.  This is an area that can be played with to see how your body feels moving through the squat motion.
-Track Your Knees Over Your Foot (2nd and 3rd toe are a good landmark): This allows you to keep your hips engaged and also make sure you're knees aren't going all over the place through both the eccentric and concentric portions of the movement.  The 2nd and 3rd toes are a very solid landmark.
-Work to Parallel Depth: Rarely do you ever want to move your joints not through their entire range of motion and your knees are no exception. It can take awhile to get there but it is well worth it for your long term knee health.
-Brace with Your Breath: You want to go into these movements stable and bracing deep through your entire core can get you there.  Using a belt can be useful to feel if you're bracing correctly when setting up for your movement.

The Dont's
-Knees Moving First: We don't want this to happen as this loads your quads and can put a lot of stress on your knees as they will be taking a lot of the force when the movement starts.  Over time this can lead to wearing down of your knees which causes a lot of problems down the road.
-Knees Caving In: NO, DON'T EVER, PLEASE!  If this is happening you're losing all control of your hips and your feet/ankles.  Take a step back and remove the weight and practice with body weight.
-Hips Moving Up Before Knees: When coming out of the bottom of the squat you want everything to move up at the same time and not have your hips move and then your knees and then you extend at your back.  Move in one coordinated movement and stand up.

There are always modifications you can make and working to depth is important as we would always like everyone to move through a full range of motion.  If you're struggling with depth you may want to look into weightlifting shoes (LINK) or use something to prop your heals up and inch or so to help your ankles work through a greater range of motion.  With that if it is something that works for you we want to make sure you are working on improving that range of motion.  Find a link below:


Squatting is a great movement and one that can happen to improve your daily life as well as increasing your performance.  We want to see everyone squat and do so through full movement and pain free.  If you have questions please get in touch with us and we would be happy to talk through the squat.

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