There are a few really important movement staples in exercise. A squat is one of these important and essential skills that should be in everyone’s repertoire. The mechanics involved in a squat are also involved in jumping and, therefore, are essential for anyone and everyone! Because there are so few people who can properly execute a basic squat, we are going to break it down in stages. As with anything it is important to note that special conditions, injuries, or major movement problems often require supervision for proper correction. You should not perform any squats if you have a knee, hip, ankle or back injury until you have been properly cleared by a Chiropractor, Sports specialist Medical Doctor or qualified Physiotherapist. This post is simply a guide to help the general population learn to perform a very important movement skill.
The definition of a perfect squat for this post:
- Knees tracking over, but behind, the first and second toe
- You are able to do a full squat (to 90 degrees) with your toes 4-6” from a wall without feeling like you are going to fall backwards
- Your upper body is straight up and down (allowing only for about 20-30 degrees of forward flexion)
Stage 1: Assessing the baseline
- Perform a body weight squat
o Make note if your knees go past your toes
o Make note if you knees track inside or outside of their center line
o Make note of any pain (specific pain can result in several differential diagnosis when it comes to the squat motion. If you are experiencing pain, a medical professional should properly evaluate you before continuing
- If your knees track in: perform exercises to activate Gluteus medius
- If your knees track outward: attempt to intentionally keep them in and see how that changes your squat inside the above parameters
Stage 2: Selecting your first exercise
- If you cannot stop your knees from going over your toes
o Use a Stability Ball against your lower back on the wall
o Add Glute firing exercises (ie, floor bridge, band kick backs)
- Once you have mastered the Stability Ball squat with weight you are ready to attempt an elevated heal squat (this typically takes around 4 weeks).
- Elevated heal squat is simply as it is stated. Raise your heals off the ground using a piece of wood or other implement that is around 2-3” in height. This will allow you to push your butt back without feeling like you are going to fall over.
If you cannot keep your knees from internally rotating (towards each other), then use a band from knee to knee during your squat and resist the band pulling your knees together. This will develop your external rotators and start to build the proper mechanics to perform a squat.
- If you can perform a perfect body weight squat without any of the aforementioned problems, then you should start with a tempo-controlled squat and add weight as you feel comfortable
o Tempo 1: 3 (down) 1 (pause) and 2 (up) – 3-1-2
o Tempo 2: 4 – 1 – 1
o Tempo 3: 4 – 0 – X (fast)
Once you can perform a perfect squat, you are ready to start jump training. You should not be doing any jump training until you can do a 4-0-X squat with perfect form that is weighted with at least 50% of your own body weight.