When you are first taught how to view a squat it’s very commonly talked about that you break at the hips and then sit back. What you don’t want to see is breaking at the ankle or knees first. This is when a squat becomes quad dominate and can lead to pain in the knees, overuse injuries and a squat that isn’t very deep. When we look at the squat we also cue that chest stays up. This is where the squat story begins.
Firstly, most will think that you are unable to squat and that something is wrong. As someone completing the exercise you don’t want to believe them. As a professional you need to look at a couple of different aspects that could be effecting the squat. If the client is leaning too far forward we need to look as some of the possibilities on what this is the case. The first thing that everyone goes to is that they a tight through their hip flexors and they need to smash their mobility for their hips (a lot of the times tight hip flexors con CONTRIBUTE to the problem but not the main reason). Then they keep squatting and nothing changes, next thing they give up on squats because it doesn’t look like it does on the internet. The next area clients/professionals start to look at is the glutes are weak. “We need to do a lot of glute work before we can start squatting.” Have you heard that said to you before? It is a lie! You do a squat every time you get up and down from a seat. Maybe if you have some valgus we need to work on glute med, but a great way to get your glutes firing is the squat.
I can hear you now saying there is nothing left, the hips dominate this movement (not true deadlift is a hip dominant exercise)? Well there are two main areas that aren’t looked at that can change the dynamics and biomechanics of the squat. We are going to talk about one of these in this blog.
So the chest is folding over and we can’t figure out why. This is what I want you to do. Take a photo side on and answer these questions. Is the bar over the centre of gravity? Is the femur parallel to the ground? If the answer is yes to both of these questions and your torso angle is not correct we may have the story of the long femur. On this photo I want you to draw a line from the Greater Trochanter to the Lateral Condyle of the Femur (bony point of your hip to the bony point on the side of knee). Now draw a line from the Lateral Condyle to the Fibular Notch of the Fibula (bony point of knee to lateral ankle bone). Most likely what you will find is that the femur is of a great length. What we end up with is a greater moment arm from bar position to hips (as in the photo to the right).
So we have found the why we are getting such a lean in the torso but how to fix it? Firstly why does it need to be fixed? Answer that question first. Is it the same squat just with a greater femur length? Is it going to be harmful towards your yourself/client or athlete? We can look at things to help free up the range of movement such as the mobility of the ankle joint and how much range it has (hint this is the second reason why we may be getting that torso flexion). The greater the range here the more the knee will move over the toes, seen as poor technique to many, someone with a long femur this may not be the case as the moment arms are closer to even.
If you have any questions about this comment below or ask any of the members of staff at Vision Exercise Physiology and Sports Science