It was the 4th of July and my then 16 month old niece was picking up toys off the ground and throwing them into the kiddie pool. I couldn’t help but realize the ease at which she squatted, picked up an object off the ground, and stood back up to throw it with perfect form. The funny thing is that nobody coached her through these movement patterns! As she played throughout the day she continued walk, run, squat, and play effortlessly. The below picture is reminiscent of what I saw that day and it breaks down squat perfection at its best.
The reality is that we are meant to be mobile beings who move in dynamic ways to run, jump, dodge, crawl, and climb but our civilized Western Culture has changed the way we once lived our everyday active lifestyle by trading in the plow for the chair and desk. Unfortunately that tradeoff has come at a cost in creating chronic mobility issues and movement patterns that can not only lead to injury while exercising but can also impair your quality of life as you age. I’m sure that most of us would say that we want to live longer, happier, and more fulfilled lives. If this is the case then we must constantly practice moving more, moving properly, and reclaiming our natural function. That is why we want to focus August on one of the most basic and essential movements to live a healthy life: “The Squat.”
Before I go any further I want to first say that from an anatomy perspective we are all created different and as a result of this our natural squatting motion will look different. Some people will squat narrow while others will find it natural to squat wider. Your hip and joint structure are hereditary so you can thank your parents for that. Previous injuries such as ankle sprains or ACL tears may alter your range of motion (ROM) as well so keep that in mind if you struggle with mobility progress.
One thing is for certain, at WIP we squat a lot! We integrate various forms such as the air squat, weighted front squat, sumo squat, split squat, pistol squat, overhead squat along with others. The type of squat determines the form of that movement so not all squats should look exactly the same, but one thing is for certain, mobility must be present in order for you to squat properly.
Below in the first picture there is a visual of common air squat faults along with what proper form looks like at the bottom position. You see that with correct form there is zero rounding of the spine, the entire foot is on the ground, weight is displaced on the heels, and the hips are below parallel. The second picture shows another critical element.The knees need to track over the middle of the feet and not allow caving to the inside in order to avoid knee destruction and overall form collapse.
Now that you see what a good squat position looks like film yourself performing an air squat from a side and front angle to see how your squat stacks up.
Lastly, I want to challenge you to spend a minimum 5-10 min each day (outside of your WIP warmup) this month improving your mobility. Most squat dysfunction shows its ugly head due to either a strength and stability issue or lack of ROM in the ankle, hip, and/or thoracic (upper) spine. Since we are discussing mobility in this post I have attached resources for each of the key ROM areas for you to implement.
Choose 1-2 movements from each of the articles below and do them daily. If you do not own a foam roller you can always use one of our rollers pre or post workout to get this work in.
Our coaches will be spending extra time this month critiquing your squat form and making sure its on point. If you have any questions regarding the squat or mobility techniques please see one of our awesome coaches. We look forward to seeing your progress this month!