“But it is just a squat, how hard can it be?”
Squats are a very popular exercise when working out, but they are also a very common activity in sports and everyday activities. When you go to sit down or stand up, you are doing a variation of a squat. Try counting the number of times you sit down and stand up during a given day...it is hundreds of times. Furthermore, every time an athlete jumps, they squat both before the jump and after. Think about all of the sports that involve squatting and the number of squats some kids may perform during a practice.
What is the proper form for a squat?
Let’s determine what should occur at each part of the body for a proper squat.
Feet: The feet should be facing straight forward or slightly turned out. The weight
should be on the outside border of your feet. If the weight is on the inside border of your feet, you will notice that it may look like you have flat feet. This foot position will create increased stress at joints higher up on your body (i.e. ankles, knees, hips, and back).
Knees: If a line is drawn from your knee to the floor, it should point through the 2nd toe of your foot. In addition, the front of knee should not go over the front of your toes. One of the biggest errors people show in a squat is allowing their knees to come closer together instead of remaining parallel to each other.
Hips: Your hips should go back as if you are sitting down into a chair. Your hips should also remain level.
Back: Your back should remain straight. It should not arch or flex forward as both of these can cause increased stress on your hips and back. Your torso should make about a 30 degree angle with your thighs. This will help you keep your balance.
It is vital to keep all of these points in mind during both the lowering and rising portions of the squat.
Why is this important?
Over time, if the athlete or person working out is not completing the squat properly, they could end up with an injury. Incorrect execution of squats over time place excess stress on joints which can cause significant pain. Poor form and the added stresses on the joints is further increased when you add weight when performing the squat. Improper squats can also decrease the force an athlete is able to produce for jumping. For example, someone who is squatting wrong may not be able to produce enough force to jump and block a volleyball. However, with improved technique, they may be able to jump higher and improve their performance.
Who can help?
Physical therapists are able to help people of all ages do squats. Whether you are an adult working out to stay fit or get in shape or an adolescent athlete, a physical therapist can help you strengthen the muscles needed to improve your technique. If you are experiencing pain, the PT will also help address this issue so that you can return to the activities you enjoy. We, at Synergy Family Therapy Specialists, want to help you improve your squat technique and achieve your individual goals!