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

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.

Knees Past Toes

Knees Past Toes

Have you ever been told your knees shouldn’t go past your toes?

Or have you said that to your clients/patients?

Do you have any idea why that became one of the “Exercise Commandments” that we all must follow at all times?

1) Question everything you hear that is presented as an absolute.

ESPECIALLY before adopting this “truth” and spreading it like wildfire. When it comes to human movement, there are a lot less absolutes than most trainers, coaches, clinicians, and professors would like you to believe. A LOT

2) If the knee should never go past your toes, then why is it able to?

Why do we have so much dorsiflexion if we “aren’t allowed” to use it?

3) The human body can handle a lot more than we think.

Stop instilling fear in people by telling them how terrible the knee tracking past the toes is. We should be making our clients/patients feel strong and resilient, not fragile and weak!

4) This was harder than it looks because I was actively pulling myself down into this position rather than falling into it.

I have a ton of range of motion. Including ankle dorsiflexion. By exploring the ranges I have, and actively using my muscles and contracting in those positions, I’m beginning to own some of these positions. Gravity is not the friend of bendy people like myself.

Flexibility without active control is a liability.

Knees traveling past your toes is not necessarily a liability, got it?

PS, no knees were harmed during the making of this video.

Hip Pain & Squatting

Hip Pain & Squatting

Do you have pinching or pain in the front of your hip (or hips) when squatting?

If so, you’re not alone. This is a very common complaint we hear and see. And probably one of the most common dysfunctions clinicians treat with crossfitters.

So why does this happen?

It could caused by a wide variety of things, including improper core stabilization, lack of ankle dorsiflexion, lack of hip internal or external rotation, bony abnormalities at the hip joint, your squat stance, or even your motor control/squat technique itself.

As you can see, there’s more to look at than just the hip.

So if you’ve been continually mobilizing your hip with a monster band without much luck, maybe it’s time to look elsewhere!

And as always, it’s best to get assessed by a licensed clinician who can find your cause, rather than you blindly guessing on what to work on.

You can probably see a trend in our posts.

We’ll never tell you what exactly to do. Because we haven’t assessed you. Until then, the solution is always, “It depends.”

There’s never one “best exercise” to get rid of hip pain when squatting.

Hip Pain & Squatting

Squatting & Knee Pain

There is a lot that goes on within the squat movement.

Movement at the hips, knees, and ankles. Stabilization of the spine. Balance. The list goes on.

The point?

Why guess what the problem is? Your best solution is to get a thorough assessment. One that looks at not only the knee, but the entire body.

At Movement Upgraded, we like to start by first looking at how you move your ENTIRE body.

This gives us a great idea about your motor control abilities as well as how ALL your joints work.

Next, we assess ALL ranges of motion in nearly EVERY joint in your body. Yes, both active AND passive. This gives us a great idea about your mobility and flexibility and if there is a difference between the two.

Gathering all of this information helps us understand why your knee is hurting.

Is that all?

Absolutely not! We also check the squat movement itself.

Maybe all of your joints work fine and we just need to critique your squat form. Maybe you just need to practice the squat more. Maybe you need to change up your squat stance. Again, the list goes on.

Are we done yet?

Hell no! Maybe your tissues are just not strong enough yet (or you loaded the tissues too much too quickly). Maybe the pain only happens at certain parts of the squat and all you need to do is strengthen your tissues in that exact part of the squat.

Is that all? No. Did we forget to talk about something very important? Probably. And that is our point.

Social media and blogs are a great place to become informed, but DO NOT get free medical advice from random social media and blog posts.

One post may help some people, and that same post may harm someone else. Take your health seriously, it is kind of important. If you have pain, get assessed.

Deep Squat: Is It Bad For Your Knees?

Deep Squat: Is It Bad For Your Knees?

Is squatting below parallel bad for your knees?

This is a debate that we hear often. And one that was unfortunately not winnable in chiropractic & physical therapy school. (Good luck debating this with your instructors.)

Is the deep squat bad for the knees?

NO. May it be bad for YOUR knees? It depends.

There are so many factors that attribute to whether or not the deep squat is right for you (here are a few):

  • Do you have the mobility prerequisites?
  • Do you have adequate core stability?
  • Do you have any joint pathologies?
  • Have you deep squatted throughout life?
  • What is your intention or goal?

All of these factors attribute to whether or not the deep squat is right for you. And if it’s good for your knees.

As you see in the above picture, the forces and tissues with the most load change throughout the depth of the squat.

There is increased shear below 90 degrees of knee flexion (above parallel) and increased compression above 90 degrees (below parallel). Neither are inherently worse than the other when the tissues being loaded are prepared for the load.

In the end, the only “bad” exercise or movement is the one your tissues are not prepared for.

Tissue capacity must be greater than the load. Simple as that.


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