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Squat Check-in!

Squats are such a great exercise for legs, and core strength.  And so versatile; with a multitude of variations:  single leg, weighted, weight position, foot position.  However, it is easy four our bodies to find the path of least resistance and “cheat” when we do squats.  So, let’s talk technique of a simple squat. 

We must start at our feet.  We have talked about foot to core connections before.  You can review the whole short foot in previous blogs.  Keys for foot support with any exercise with your feet on the ground:

  • Spread and lift your toes
  • Anchor your foot to the ground at 1st and 5th toes and heel. 
  • Push your toes into the ground

This process activates your foot and starts to turn on the whole fascial system and preps your muscles for action.  As you squat, check in with your feet. You should notice that your ankle is able to stay neutral—not collapsing in or out—and that your foot is able to stay grounded in the short foot position.

Lean back just a little so more than 50% of your weight is on your heels.  This helps to activate the posterior chain.  A lot of people tend to keep their weight out front when they are learning how to squat.  This activates more of their anterior chain.  Our power with squats (and a lot of other exercise) comes from our posterior chain.  Particularly gluts in the case of squats.

Now bend at the hips so that your trunk is coming forward, keeping your chest up.  Think about keeping your heart lifted in yoga.  This will help from rounding in your lumbar spine and protect your back.

Pay attention to your knees.  This is a clue I send home with my patients.  Watch your knees in the mirror.  If your knees are coming together or your feel like you can more your legs in and out, that is a clue that your gluts are not turning on or at least not enough.

Lastly, check in with your pelvic floor.  On the way down in your squat, your tailbone will extend meaning that your pelvic floor with eccentrically lengthen.  As you transition to start returning to stand, your tailbone will flex and your pelvic floor will concentrically turn on and shorten.  Your pelvic floor should fire either right before or with your gluts and hamstrings on the return to standing.  With this, your deep core will fire with your pelvic floor.

So, with your squats check:

  • Feet—solid on the ground
  • Knees—stable and lined up with your hips
  • Hips—behind you and activated.  Your brakes on the way down and your powerhouse on the way back up
  • Pelvic floor—stabilizing your pelvis and supporting your core

Sarah is the proud co-owner of Foundational Concepts, Specialty Physical Therapy which opened in March 2013. Sarah lectures at the University of Missouri Department of PT, University of Kansas Departments of PT and Nurse Midwifery, and at Rockhurst University Department of PT. She is board certified in Women’s Health PT and holds certifications in medical therapeutic yoga, lymphedema therapy and dry needling.

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