Oct 25, 2011

How is YOUR squat technique?

I'm pretty much known as the "Form Nazi" in my morning classes, but technique is so important.  We, as your coaches, are responsible, in part, for your improvement and to help minimize injury!  Performing the squat is no exception . . . it may actually be one of the simplest movements with the highest risk of injury.  So, we are re-visiting the topic of 'squat technique'.

Common Mistakes When Performing Squats:

Arching your back -
Your goal when performing the squat is to keep your back flat or stick your butt back (arch back).  You want to clear away from having your pelvis roll forward and your spine round.  If you find this difficult or if your coach is constantly queing you to "keep that back flat", here are a few things to consider:
1.  Strengthen your lower back.  A weak lower back will have a hard time staying in correct position for the squat.
2.  Stretch your hamstrings. Tight hamstrings restrict movement throughout the lower back.
3.  Lift your toes while squatting.
4.  Hold the bar closer to your shoulders.

Heels come off the floor -
When your heels rise off the floor and your body weight is shifted forward, this puts all the pressure on the knees.  Over time, this may cause serious knee damage.  If you find yourself lifting up those heels, try this:
1.  Keep your eyes up, chest forward and sit back.
2.  Stretch your calves before AND after your squat routine.

Excessive leaning over -
The ideal squat position is keep your torso upright more than leaning forward.  If you find yourself leaning forward:
1.  Stretch your calves.
2.  Prop your heels up on a weight (though this doesn't help the fact that your calves are tight).

Knees buckle in or push out -
Ideally, you want to keep your knees in good alignment over your ankles.  If you find yourself bringing the knees in or pushing them out while you are squatting weight, this will help:
1.  Wrap a weight belt loosely around your thighs and press out against the belt as you come up. If your knees buckle in then the belt will drop to the floor.
2.  If your legs tend to splay out, hold something, e.g. a volleyball, between your legs and keep it pinched there during the set.

Knees coming too far forward -
It's important that you keep you body weight backwards.  We covered this earlier when talking about keeping weight on the heels.  If you find your knees coming forward over your toes, here is something to think about:
1.  If you ski or snowboard, this might make more sense.  But, think of yourself wearing ski or snowboard boots.  When wearing these boots, you are not able to flex forward much at the ankle.  When performing your squat, think more about bending at the knee and hip joint, instead of the ankle joint.  Try this at home:  Put your ski boots on and perform some squats. 

Just remember:  "Form is everything".  If it seems like a coach is being "nit-picky" about your technique . . . it just means that we CARE :-)   Before throwing on more weight, re-visit your squat technique and make sure you are building good movement habits.

The PERFECT squat:

~ Coach Heather

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