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Get it right, Get it tight (Pt 2): Do you know squat?

So let’s get back to that picture I painted in “Get it Right, Get it Tight, Pt1." You are rushing to get those 50 squats in under the timer. Instead of doing the movement correctly, you fall prey to the competitor inside you. You are not going low enough. You are shifting onto your toes. You are letting your knees collapse in. This is not only counter-productive, but dangerous.

As a physical therapist, I very rarely have a patient that can perform a squat correctly. I evaluate this movement with many injuries involving areas such as the knees, hips, and even the lower back. You might say, “Well that’s biased. They are there for an injury so clearly all of them were doing it wrong.” That may be true, but I can’t help notice all of the eager go-getters risking serious injury and working their butts off…literally.

If you do not demand attention from those stubborn glutes, then you better believe they are going to keep on hitting that snooze button.

Based on my clinical experience and as an enthusiastic ClassPass user (RIP unlimited ClassPass), the squat is one of the most commonly performed exercises and also the most commonly performed incorrectly.

The squat is soooo incredibly important for reasons other than building that beautiful backside and there are a zillion (okay maybe not a zillion) other factors contributing to poor form, but let’s keep this simple for now. The point of this post is to show you the differences between an efficient and an inefficient squat to get those desired results!

After all, the first step to recovery is admitting we have a problem, right?

Here are the two most common mistakes:

Quad dominance:

Weight shifts forward>weight distributed into ball of foot (heels may raise)>knees move past toes>feel those quads burn baby burn.

This also puts a lot of extra pressure on the knee joint so this may not actually be a case of “hurts so good.”

In this scenario, the quads are acting like that control freak taking over the group project while everyone else sits back and relaxes or simply doesn’t know how to effectively contribute. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on the quads…they just need to share the love with the glutes and hammies!

A balanced team is a more efficient team and as some of you may hope, a more aesthetically pleasing team.

Focus on:

Leading with your butt! The rest will follow.

Many people think of squats as bending the knees. FORGET THAT. Instead, think (or sing) “Pop, lock, and drop it.”

Unlock at the hips “Pop”, activate core to maintain neutral spine “Lock”, and push that booty back “Drop it!” (as if tapping down to a chair).

Reverse on the way up. Drive through the heels, tuck the hips, squeeze that booty at the top!

Key points: feet firmly planted with weight in heels, chest up, maintain natural curve in lower back.

Valgus Collapse (knees caving in):

To keep it simple, let’s think of the leg as a chain with 3 main joints: the hip, knee, and ankle. If we move the top of the chain (the hip), the next link in the chain will follow (the knee), continuing on down to the ankle. The same is true starting from the bottom-up. If the ankle collapses in (pronates), the knee and hip will follow suit.

Valgus collapse is not only a sign of poor muscle recruitment, but it can contribute to injuries from nagging knee pain to more serious injuries such as ACL tears.

Regardless of the cause, it is imperative to prevent this movement both for injury prevention and for recruiting those outer hip muscles.

Focus on:

Spreading the floor between your feet apart.

This helps activate those important hip muscles.

Watch yourself in a mirror for feedback. If the knees are dropping in, think about pushing them out. Do NOT over do it. The popular cue of pushing the knees out should not apply if you are already pushing them out enough to maintain correct position.

Key points: weight should be felt in outer heels slightly more than the inner, knees should not fall inside of your feet.

Now, take this and go conquer that workout, knowing that you are working those muscles as safely and efficiently as possible! Don’t let your competitive nature get the best of you. You only need to compete with yourself, performing the best that you can be. If that person is moving faster or lifting heavier but is doing it incorrectly, then who cares? You may not be the first to finish or may not be lifting the heaviest weights, but you will be making the biggest gains in the long run because

1. You are working the muscles you intended on working


2. You are keeping yourself in the game by protecting that amazing and capable body of yours.

So remember, if you are trying to “GET IT TIGHT”, you must “GET IT RIGHT”.

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