5 Biggest Squat Mistakes

5 Biggest Squat Mistakes

5 Biggest Squat Mistakes

1. Not assessing your hips for the proper squat stance.

This is the most important thing to do prior to squatting. Why? Because everyone has different hip anatomy. And the anatomy of your hips will dictate how you squat. Some people, regardless of how much mobility work they do, will always have to squat wider and with their toes out. Because that’s how their hips are formed. For a detailed blog post on this, check out Movement Fix’s post “Why people HAVE to squat differently.”

2. Not creating proper IAP.

This is a big one we see in our office. People “sucking in” their belly button towards their spine, compromising their spinal stability, rather than pressurizing their abdomen and stabilizing their spine through a diaphragmatic breathing and bracing strategy. IAP stands for intra-abdominal pressure– you want to increase IAP as much as possible to stabilize your spine. Sucking in your belly button towards your spine just won’t cut it.

3. Losing tension at the bottom.

This goes hand-in-hand with creating proper IAP. Maintain that IAP throughout the entire squat AND create tension in your entire body throughout the movement to further stabilize your shoulders, hips, and spine. Control the movement to the bottom. Don’t just let gravity pull you down uncontrollably, hoping you can just “bounce” out of the hole.

4. Not picking the right squat style for you.

What are your current goals? What are your current mobility limitations? Do you have any joint pain? Again, what does your hip anatomy look like? All of these factors (and many others) should affect which squat you should be doing and why. Choosing a squat style that isn’t the best for your anatomy (or for your current strength/joint capacity) may wind up doing more harm than good.

5. Not moving in unison.

A squat is a hip AND knee dominant movement. Both the hips and knees should move basically at the same time. Check out @steficohen’s “Visualizing the squat” for a great visual.

What to read next: 5 Best Squat Mobility Drills

Best Exercises for Shoulder Pain

Best Exercises for Shoulder Pain

Best Exercises for Shoulder Pain

If you are struggling with shoulder aches and pains or recurring shoulder injuries, then this article is for you. When it comes to being strong at the push and pull movement patterns such as the bench press, pull-up, push-up, dumbbell row, or any other movement that involves the shoulders, it is imperative to have adequate shoulder mobility and strength.

Many people injure their shoulders with the above listed movements. And it is not because the movements are “bad” exercises. It is because these people are not prepared for the exercises they are performing. Their muscles and joints are not prepared for the exercise, or the combination of exercises at hand.

  • Injury = demands placed on tissues > tissue capacity
  • Rehab = demands placed on tissues < or = tissue capacity
  • Prevention = tissue capacity >> demands placed on tissues

Taking a quick look at the above equations should really shed light on how injuries and aches/pains occur. However, just “getting strong” and building tissue capacity is not enough. You must train smart and through your entire ranges of motion. You cannot just get strong in one part of your range of motion and expect to be strong in other parts of that range. That is just not how our body works. Strength is angle specific.

So to really mitigate your chance of injury, you must make sure you have full ranges of motion in your joints. Secondly, you must create strength, control, and stability throughout all of those ranges of motions. This is the recipe for bulletproofing your shoulders and overcoming your shoulder pain.

Here are 5 of our favorite shoulder exercises for combatting achy and painful shoulders, especially stubborn anterior shoulder pain.

1. Sleeper Stretch for Shoulder Internal Rotation

Shoulder internal rotation is the most common shoulder joint range of motion lost. Normal range of motion for shoulder internal rotation is 70-90 degrees. Having a lack of this internal rotation range of motion puts your shoulder at a greater risk for injury. This range of motion is necessary for various movements and without it, compensations often occur throughout the shoulder girdle. Most commonly seen is tipping/dumping of the shoulder blade forwards, compromising the anterior structures of the shoulder joint. This is especially true in vertical pulling exercises such as the barbell clean.

PRO TIP: The sleeper stretch is often criticized, but when executed properly and safely, it is a phenomenal exercise to normalize shoulder internal rotation. Do not push through pain or pinching with this exercise. You should only feel a deep stretch on the outer part and back part of your shoulder.

PROGRAMMING: 2-3 rounds 3-4 days/week. This is a safe exercise to perform in your warm-ups prior to upper body pushing or pulling days.

2. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder External Rotations

Those with anterior shoulder pain often have “weak” or under-trained shoulder external rotators. Relatively speaking, most training programs do not implement much (or any) accessory training exercises for the shoulders. They target the large prime movers of the shoulders, but neglect the smaller shoulder stabilizers, especially the shoulder external rotators (the teres minor and infraspinatus). Seated dumbbell shoulder external rotations are a fantastic way to isolate these muscles and build strength and endurance. Go light with this exercise and do not use momentum to power through this exercise.

PRO TIP: Keep your elbow that is resting on your knee slightly lower than shoulder height. Do not push into any pain or pinching at any time during this exercise. Additionally, you can slowly lower the dumbbell to work on eccentrically stretching the posterior shoulder to improve shoulder internal rotation range of motion. At no time during this exercise should your shoulder blade tip/dump forwards (keep your shoulder blade stable and immobile).

PROGRAMMING: 2-3 rounds of 15-20 repetitions, 3-4 days/week. This exercise is safe to perform in your warm-up, during rest breaks in betweens sets/exercises, or on its own.

3. Banded Face-Pulls

The banded face-pull combats that nasty posture we all exhibit throughout the day, especially those of us that work desk jobs: internally rotated, adducted, and protracted shoulders with an overly flexed thoracic spine. By working the upper back and posterior shoulder with the banded face-pull, you are working on maintaining an upright/extended spine, while pulling your shoulders into external rotation, horizontal abduction, and retraction. As with all exercises, you should feel no pain or pinching with this.

PRO TIP: While pulling the band towards your face, also think about pulling the band apart horizontally. Keep your elbows high throughout and really focus on hammering your posterior shoulder and upper back. Go light with these. Again, we are working accessory movements and shoulder joint stabilizers, so we are training for endurance with this exercise.

PROGRAMMING: 4-5 sets of 15-20 repetitions, 3-4 days/week. This is a fantastic exercise to implement into your warm-ups to prep your shoulders for upper body days, or to superset with a heavy pushing exercise.

4. Band Pull-Aparts

Banded pull-aparts again are a great exercise to hammer the posterior shoulder and upper back musculature. They again help reverse that poor posture we all unfortunately exhibit by training shoulder external rotation, horizontal abduction, and scapular retraction. Hold on to the band in a supinated grip (palm facing upwards) to really target shoulder external rotation. From here, you can vary your grip width to make the exercise easier or harder. Pull the band apart only until it taps your chest. Slowly and controllably return to the starting position.

PRO TIP: Keep tension in the band at all times. Perform these slowly or you are short-changing yourself. There is no need to pull your arms back farther behind your back, just tap the band to your chest.

PROGRAMMING: 4-5 sets of 15-20 repetitions, 3-4 days/week. Like the banded face-pull, this is a fantastic exercise to utilize in your warm-ups or to superset with heavy pushing exercises.

5. Kettlebell Arm-Bar

The kettlebell arm-bar is fantastic for improving shoulder joint stability, especially reactive stability due to the offset weighted nature of the kettlebell. This exercise really works on maintaining shoulder joint centration (joint alignment/spacing from optimal co-contraction of all the shoulder joint stabilizer muscles). Once holding the kettlebell in this position becomes easier and more second-nature, you can add in axial shoulder joint rotations to further challenge your shoulder joint reactive stability.

PRO TIP: Do not go too heavy with this exercise. This is a common fault we see and contradicts the purpose of the exercise. Remember, we are training reactive stability and endurance of the shoulder joint, not brute strength.

PROGRAMMING: 3-4 sets of 5-6 repetitions, holding each repetition for 15-30 seconds. Perform 3-4 days/week. This is fantastic for prepping the shoulders in your warm-ups or performing it on its own.

There you have it! 5 of our favorite exercises to combat painful and achy shoulders.

As always, we do not recommend you taking this information as medical advice. Always consult with your doctor before implementing strengthening exercises or starting a training program. For optimal results, we recommend consulting with a qualified physical therapist or chiropractor who understands human movement and strength training. This is because musculoskeletal pain requires a thorough physical/movement-based assessment to identify your individual limitations and needs before specific rehab exercises are prescribed.

Frustrated with your painful or achy shoulders and have tried these exercises without much success? Reach out to us for help! We can even help find you a qualified healthcare professional to help you in your area.

5 Best Squat Mobility Drills

5 Best Squat Mobility Drills

5 BEST Squat Mobility Drills

We hear it all the time: “I’m not mobile enough to squat to parallel.” A lot of these same people then stop squatting altogether to focus on mobility work.

But guess what? With proper coaching and tweaking of your squat stance, many of these people are able to squat without the need for any mobility drills or exercises. And if solid coaching and tweaking of your squat stance does not change anything, then you still do not need to totally stop squatting altogether! If, however, you have pinching or pain when squatting and you cannot find a pain-free squat stance or a regression/lateralization of the squat exercise, then maybe you should stop squatting. For now.

So for those who have pain or pinching in the hip, what should they do?

This is where mobility work should be implemented. Not just any mobility work, but mobility work specific to the individual. This is why we always recommend getting your movement and joints assessed by a qualified healthcare practitioner…. So you are not just guessing what your mobility limitation is.

The 3 biggest things that we commonly see restricting squat depth and may contribute to pain/pinching while squatting are:

  1. Hip internal & external rotation mobility
    2. Ankle dorsiflexion mobility
    3. Adductor mobility

The five drills below help improve the mobility of the above three restrictions and can help improve your squat depth and may even fix your pain/pinching while squatting.

5 BEST Squat Mobility Drills:

1. 90-90 Hip Internal Rotation Stretch

Lack of hip internal rotation can limit squat depth and can definitely be correlated with hip pinching in the front/anterior part of your hip. If you have been working on hip internal rotation mobility without much luck, check out this video for solid tips or how to truly improve your hip internal rotation mobility for good.

PRO TIP: If you feel any sort of pinching in the anterior/inner hip area, then you need to change of your torso/hip/leg positioning. You should only feel a deep stretch in the musculature/hip capsule on the outer portion of your hip. The game-changer with this stretch is that it is an active mobility drill.

2. 90-90 Hip External Rotation Stretch

Lack of hip external rotation can also limit squat depth. If you tend to feel a large tightness/stretch sensation in your posterior hip/gluteal region at the bottom position of your squat, then this may be the exercise for you.

PRO TIP: Make sure you are not rounding through your spine when performing this stretch. Your spine should stay long. Think about reaching your chest upwards and forwards, while pushing your front hip backwards at the same time. Again, the game-changer with this stretch is that it is an active mobility drill.

3. Ankle Dorsiflexion Banded Mobilization with Isometric Contractions

If you do not have adequate ankle mobility, then this can definitely contribute to squat depth issues. And you best believe it is a common cause of anterior hip pinching at the bottom of the squat.

While there are plenty of ankle mobility exercises out there, this one combines them all together. You definitely do not have to do all parts of this exercise, but if you at least want to work on your ankle mobility via stretching your gastroc/soleus/achilles tendon, then perform just the active version of the calf stretch. Again, the game-changer is that this mobility drill is active.

PRO TIP: Keep your heel on the ground at all times during this stretch. Also, make sure your knee tracks over your second toe; do not let your knee cave inwards.

4. Adductor Rock Back Mobilization

Tight adductors are another common cause of squat depth issues and can also contribute to hip pain while squatting. If you have a lack of adductor extensibility/mobility, then your knees may be collapsing into excessive valgus and your lower back may even be dumping into flexion (the dreaded “butt wink”).

PRO TIP: Make sure your lower back stays flat/neutral throughout this mobilization. This position/exercise works on mobilizing the adductor muscles, but also improves lumbopelvic motor control.

5. Goblet Squat Prying

If you want to get better at squatting and improving the bottom position of your squat, then guess what? You need to spend time down there! The kettlebell (or dumbbell) goblet squat is a fantastic way to do this as it provides you with a counterbalance to keep your chest upright. Hold your squat at the bottom position only as long as you are able to maintain solid form. From here, you can add in adductor prying and hip internal and external rotation movements to loosen up the hips.

PRO TIP: Only squat down to your current pain-free depth in which you are able to maintain the natural lordotic/neutral curvature of your lumbar spine.

And there you have it! Our 5 BEST squat mobility drills to improve your squat depth and eliminate pinching in your anterior hip.

If you are still having issues with your squat depth or hip pain/pinching, you should optimize your squat stance. Remember, everyone has different hip anatomy and therefore, everyone should squat slightly different. And if changing up your squat stance does not seem to help, your best bet is to find a qualified healthcare practitioner who understands movement and strength training to help you and provide you with a thorough orthopedic/movement assessment.

How To Stretch Your Hamstrings

How To Stretch Your Hamstrings

OVERVIEW

Do you have tight hamstrings? Does it seem like you have been stretching them forever without much change?

If so, then the first thing to do is assess if you actually have tight hamstrings and if they need to be stretched. You can do this by doing an active straight leg raise on the ground one leg at a time. Can you achieve 80-90 degrees without compensation?

If no, then you may need to work on your hamstring mobility by doing this hamstring mobility exercise. If you can, but still feel that your hamstrings are “tight” then this exercise may still be good for you by creating strength in your hamstrings’ range of motion, especially at the end range.

The biggest problem we see time and time again with this stretch is that people always round through their lower back. Keep your spine neutral and hinge only through your hips.

Give this stretch a shot and see if you notice a difference!

Carries

Carries

Do you perform loaded carries of any sort?

There are so many variations of carries that you can perform and they all have their each unique benefits. Front rack, farmers, suitcase, bottoms up, overhead carries, you name it.

Carries, especially unilateral, are an amazing way to challenge your frontal and transverse plane stability.

These planes are often neglected in traditional strength training, yet are very important for spinal health.

Carries are also great for grip strength and elbow health! We often give our golfer’s elbow patients carries to really isometrically strengthen their forearms before adding in other exercises.

Do you perform carries? What’s your favorite type of carry?! Drop a comment below!

Deadlifting Bad for Your Back?

Deadlifting Bad for Your Back?

Have you been told that deadlifting is bad for your back?

If the person who told you this is your personal trainer, doctor, physical therapist, or chiropractor, then it’s time to find a new one.

Deadlifting is not back for the back!

However, it may be “bad” for your back if you’re not prepared for the exercise. It may also be “bad” for your back if you don’t know how to deadlift properly. But in either case, it’s not the deadlift’s fault. It’s not a bad exercise. It’s just that you’re either not prepared for it, or you simply don’t know what you’re doing.

The deadlift is actually one of the first exercises we teach ALL of our patients who have lower back pain.

And we have amazing results with it. Teaching patients how to hinge at their hips and not constantly move through their spine is often very important in eliminating back pain. And keeping your back pain-free for a lifetime.

And don’t ever let anyone ever tell you that deadlifts are fine, but “don’t go too heavy with the weight.”

That’s non-sense. If you follow proper training principles and progressively overload your tissues in a safe and effective manner, your tissues adapt. You become stronger, more resilient, and mitigate your chances of injury.

If deadlifting aggravates your back or causes pain, that’s not normal.

Contact us to schedule an appointment. We’ll get you back to deadlifting pain-free FAST!

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