By: Josh Daniel, CF-L2 Trainer
No matter what the problem is, squatting is the solution; unless squatting is the problem, in which case Squat Therapy is the solution. Squat Therapy is a great way to identify problems with a squat whether they be due to a lack of mobility, a neuromuscular problem or just a lack of understanding of what your body should be doing during a squat. So if you are having trouble with your overhead squat, front squat, or just a basic air squat then Squat Therapy is just what you need to get you moving safely and teach your body to use the proper muscles to generate the most power to squat weight, whether it be in the gym or at home playing with your kids or grand kids.
How do I do Squat Therapy? First: find a ball or a box that you can squat to. The height of the box or ball should be at a point where you can maintain a neutral spine while squatting down for your butt to make contact with the top of the ball or box. It is better to start with a higher target so that you maintain a rigid back throughout the entire squat. So start higher and slowly lower your target over time to make sure that you are not training your body for poor movement. Second: once you have established your target’s height, place it a couple feet away from a wall and stand between the wall and your target. While facing the wall, your heels should sit right against the bottom of your target and your toes should should be about one foot from the wall. Over time as you get better at squatting, you will incrementally inch your stance closer and closer to the wall to force your body to maintain a better position while squatting. Third: you will take your hands and lock them out over your head placing the palm of one hand on the back of the other. Placing your hands over your head turns on your spinal erectors which are crucial for maintaining an upright torso during a squat.
The first thing to do before initiating the squat is to brace your core so that your spine is locked in to a rigid position. Practicing squatting with no weight and a braced core is essential for being able to squat with weight and maintain a braced core which will keep your back protected when under load. The second thing that will happen is the hips will initiate the squat by moving back and down. If the knees move forward before the hips move back and down the rest of the squat will be off balance. It is important that the feet remain flat on the ground as the hips move downward towards the target. Strive to keep balance during the squat and keep weight back in your heels. Maintaining balance will be extremely difficult for beginners but hang in there, it will come with practice. As the hips are moving downward the knees should move out over the toes. Knees are a hinge joint so it is crucial to your knees safety that knees do not fall in closer together during the squat. Try to turn the front of your quadriceps towards the outside of your body. This will generate external rotation which not only helps keep your knees tracking over your toes, but it also activates muscles which will generate the most power to stand you back up with heavy weights.
In order for your nervous system to get the most out of Squat Therapy, all movement should be done as slowly as possible to develop maximum body control in all segments of the squat. Slow movement will also allow the athlete to feel when a fault occurs. Once an athlete has mastered a slow and controlled squat, moving through the movement at full speed will maintain perfect form. If teaching the squat, have the athlete move slowly and ask them to stop when they are at a position of the squat with improper posture or form. Many times staying stagnant in a position with poor posture requires so much more energy the athlete will correct their posture and balance to keep from falling over. The goal of Squat Therapy is to eventually get to a squat with the athlete’s toes touching the wall and no target to squat to. If you can squat with your toes against a wall to full depth then you have developed your squat far beyond what most Americans are capable of performing.
When practicing Squat Therapy do 3 sets of 10 reps at a time. After your squat is well developed, this becomes a great warm up for any exercise session. If you are having issues with mobility, just going through the squat in Squat Therapy is a great stretching tool and way to increase mobility. No matter who you are or where you are in your fitness journey, always try to go back at least once per month and run through Squat Therapy to ensure that your body is maintaining proper mobility and neurological movement patterns.
Looking for more help with safe and efficient movement? Contact us today to schedule a No-Sweat Intro and let’s see how we can help you!