Now, in keeping with the theme of the month, we’re talking about the proper technique for squatting. There are several techniques that you can research and practice, I’m just going to talk about a general practice of the movement pattern that I know most people can accomplish without too much risk of injury.
Whether it’s Front Squats, Back Squats, High Bar, Low Bar, or any other crazy variation you can Google…these same rules will apply. Every little nuance outside of that serves a purpose, but isn’t NECESSARY to simply build some fitness while focusing on your health. I’m using a “Ground Up” approach to explain this as clearly as possible.
First thing’s first, the FEET. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that the feet are not just blocks of bone and skin that we stand on. They have muscles, they should be strong, they are our only real contact to the ground almost all the time. We want to place the feet directly under the hip joint. Toes pointed pretty much straight forward. Think of your feet like the tires on your car. Not toe’d in or out, simply straight forward so your car drives better and your tires last longer. Also, they should be actively grabbing the ground as if you’re trying to pick something up with your foot…like a monkey.
Now we look at the knees. If your feet are your tires, then your knees are the headlights. They need to point the same direction as your tires. You want to be able to see where you’re driving to. As you drop to the bottom of the squat, they’re pointed straight in line with the toes. As you drive up out of the squat, they’re pointed in that same straight line with the toes. Simple concept, right?
Next comes the hips. This is where things can get really tricky, especially if you do any looking around on the internet or have talked to multiple “trainers” about squat technique and help. Essentially what we are looking for is the ability to, while maintaining good control of everything, get the hip joint slightly lower than the knee joint. This would look like your femur is just below the parallel point to the floor you’re standing on. In order to accomplish this, you need some good mobility in the hips and ankles which I addressed in the last post. Once you can achieve that position at the bottom, then you’re going to think “PUSH THE FLOOR AWAY” and that will help activate the most muscles around the legs and hips to fully stand up out of the squat. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS finish at the top by squeezing the glutes…your butt!
Now that the feet, knees, and hips are all doing their jobs really well, we are going to look at the torso. You need to understand something, a lot of this is dependent upon an individual’s build and body type. If you have really long legs and a short torso, it looks a little different than someone with short legs and a long torso. But for the most part, you want the torso to be as upright as it can be while achieving the rest of the checkpoints.
If you can’t keep your torso upright, you’re probably not getting your hips all the way down. You can get the hips down and keep an upright torso, but maybe your feet or knees are way out of alignment.
If you try doing squats, and can see/feel that everything is not lined up then refer back to the “Squat Mobility” blog.
Again, this is a very general technique for safe practices. There are a lot of different things to keep in mind, depending on body type or specific goals. As always, if you can’t seem to figure out why you’re unable to accomplish a good squat then consider contacting us for Personal Coaching. That’s where you’ll get the best personal benefit for your movement.