There is no question that in order to perform a squat, you need healthy ankles, knees and hips. Muscle imbalances can develop in the majority of the sedentary population who sits on a chair all day. This can affect your ability to perform a safe and effective squat.
As mentioned in our previous article, when one segment is locked short and tight, the neighbouring segments will compensate by becoming long and weak. If your hip flexors are locked short, it will cause excessive flexion in the lumbar spine, pulling your torso forward. Squatting with tight psoas resembles something closer to a Good Morning knee bend complex, creating excessive strain on the lower back and knees overtime.
Limitation anywhere in the body can contribute to the problem. Overactive soleus (calf muscles), hamstrings, underactive glutes, erector spinae muscle can also contribute to the problem.
Squats, when done properly, can strengthen your adductors, hamstrings, glutes and core muscles. Here are some ways you can improve your squat and get the most bang out of your buck.
Perform split squats.
These are the king of all lower body exercises. It strengthens your gluteus medius and vastus medialis in the front leg and lengthen the hip flexors on the back leg. Split squats will improve your overall squat, but squats will not improve your split squats. Do them.
Fire your glutes.
Some of my favourite glute exercises are the 45’ back extension. Read more here about how to perform back extensions.
Stretch your hamstrings.
Most of the sedentary population dip their butts at the bottom of the squat and they often associate that with weak lower back muscles. This is not always the case–it can be caused by short, overactive hamstrings. If you suffer from posterior pelvic tilt, also known as the no-ass syndrome, you might want to read this article.
Improve ankle mobility.
Perform seated calf raise with a 2210 tempo. By holding 2 seconds at the bottom, you can promote remodelling of the tight tissue holding you back from ankle flexion. Don’t know what the tempo means? Read about it here.
There you have it. Four simple ways to improve your squats, but first, do your split squats. Don’t know where to start or how to stretch? Book a complimentary session with a KX Exercise Coach to help you improve your flexibility and strength.
Train smarter, not harder.