Having busted some common myths regarding the squat in this series' last post, I want to talk about squat issues and problems that are occurring frequently when working with my clients and how we overcome them.
1) Are your feet up to the game?
If you want to build a solid house, you have to lay a stable foundation. A strong and safely executed squat starts with stable feet. Stable feet require an arch that can be maintained during the whole range of motion when performing a squat.
A common issue I get confronted with occasionally are weak or even fallen arches. It still allows the person to squat, however this instability will carry over to the rest of the body and comes with certain problems and tends to cause or enforce muscle imbalances and promotes injuries.
Solution: This topic is actually worth a whole own essay - but what I can tell you here in case you found your feet's arches are falling in at the bottom of the squat movement is the following: Try to exercise your feet by activating your toes with crunches and moving them singly. Stretching the feet and the calves in combination with releasing via tennis balls and massage will also help. However it can take quite a long time to build back your arch but it is worth the effort!
2) Are your knees up to the game?
Another common problem are knees, that tend to drive inwards, especially at the bottom. This can have a variety of reasons, the most common one are actually weak vastus medialis obliquus muscle (VMO) or fallen arches (see above).
Solution:Try squatting lighter loads over the whole range of motion (= deep squats). Split Squats and step ups are also a great rehab for this common problem. If you are involved in sports like soccer, running and other field sports weak VMOs will most certainly result in serious injuries sooner or later - so better strengthen them now!
3) Can't squat ass to grass?
In fact everyone who is physically sound should be able to squat "ass to grass" (full range of motion where the back of the thigh is covering the calfs). Poor lifestyle choices and being trapped in office chairs however negatively affect most people's mobility.
Solution:Try to find your tight spots and trigger points (usual suspects are tight gluten, tight hamstrings, tight hip flexors and a weak core) or let a professional coach figure them out for you and stretch and release them on a regular basis. Mobility will not come back within a day, but this long term project is totally worth it as a greater mobility will make your daily life so much easier (+ plus you can impress others with super deep squats!)
To be continued [...]