"If you ain’t got squat, you ain’t got squat”
-World Renowned Physical Therapist Gary Gray
I hear it all the time from clients, friends, family etc.. Their doctor told them they can’t do squats. I usually think to myself why? What does that mean -- you can’t do squats? What kind of squat is your doctor advising you not to do? Does you doctor have an understanding of basic biomechanics and the natural authentic movements of the human body? Does your doctor understand what movements you need to be able to do on a daily basis to live a happy life?
Most of the time I think these well intentioned doctors might be referring to the rigid traditional squat that is performed in a squat rack with a weighted barbell loaded on the spine and is placed on the back or the front of the shoulders. This type of squat has a lot of rules and regulations attached to it, like keeping a neutral lordotic spine for example.
Before we jump to any major conclusions about what we should and should not be doing, I think it’s really important that we first take a big step back and improve our communication with each other by first getting an idea of what a squat really is. From my experiences, there seems to be a real lack off understanding and common language around what certain things, like a squat, actually are, what they do, and why they are important to do for the overall health and well being of the entire body.
So, What Is A Squat?
Simply put, a squat is a basic fundamental movement pattern that occurs in all 3 planes of motion (sagittal-frontal-transverse). It's not always symmetrical and really is nothing more than a vertical displacement of the body over its center of gravity. A collapsing or downward loading of the body, where gravity and the ground are squishing the body together like an accordion, making you, the squatter, smaller.
A squat is a chain reaction that occurs through the entire body!When do we use this movement?
- Getting up from sitting
- Going to the bathroom
- Jumping -- seeing that I have to squat in order to load and coil my body before I jump up
- Running and Walking -- both of which have components of a squat in them
- Doing my laundry
- Getting in and out of the car
- Picking stuff up of the ground
Yup, there is an awful lot in life that depends on your ability to squat.
Some common Squat problems:
For the most part we usually see two types of squatters:
1. Knee Squatters
2. Hip Squatters
You want to be a hip squatter so you can have a nice looking butt and don't destroy your knees.
A big thing to watch for with squatting is how much are your knees moving relative to your hip and foot. Squatting with your knees brings the pelvis under (into a posterior tilt) too far and too fast and causes abnormal stress to be placed on your knees. Bending the knees in a squat should be the result of flexing your hips. If you can’t flex your hips, you better find out why really fast and fix it.
Some other common things we usually find with improper Squatting mechanics are the following:
- Lack of ankle flexibility weight shifts forward too far and too fast (dorsiflexion, dorsiflexion with eversion, dorsiflexion with inversion)
- Limited ability to unlock the rearfoot and forefoot (calcaneal eversion, relative forefoot inversion)
- Tight butt (posterior hip)
- Tight hamstrings (are they protectively tight or mechanically tight?)
- Tight hip flexors (limited ability to flex a hip that is already in a flexed position)
- Rigid rounded kyphotic upper back (thoracic spine)
There is so much more to understand about squats -- including all the different types of squats we use with people to teach them the right way to squat, and all the wrong ways we see people try to squat.
For more information on how we can help you with your Squat, please contact Keith Colby at firstname.lastname@example.org and set up a Biomechanical Video Movement Analysis.