The dreaded squat! But why do we dread it? Instead we need to embrace it! Squatting is one of the most important functional movement patterns, and making sure we can complete it safely and effectively will benefit you more than you know! When we are re-learning the squat, and I say re-learning because we all use to squat perfect when we were toddlers, we need to watch for several mistakes. I would like to discuss just two of them. Keep those knees out and don’t let those heels leave the floor!
Knees Out: Keeping your knees out during a squat does a few important things for you. It helps stabilize the hip joint allowing it to settle into the back of the socket provided you a stabile spot to press up from. You’ll also find that pressing your knees out during you squat will allow you to increase your depth as it frees up your hips to help initiate the movement. Perhaps the most important benefit of a knee out position is that it helps keep your ACL’s safe and away from potential injury. As long as your feet stay flat drive those knees out as much as you want.
Heels Down: Keeping your heels down in a squat is very important as it allows you to better activate your posterior chain muscles; namely calves, hamstrings and glutes. Using these muscles will greatly benefit how efficiently you are able to squat. If you allow your heels to lift off of the floor you tend to shift your weight too far forward creating unwanted stress on the knee joints and an overuse of your quad muscles. You will also find that your upper body tends to collapse forward when the heels leave the floor.
Both of these cues we just discussed are of course designed to help you squat better but they also keep you safe if you cannot complete a squat or fail with a squat under an added load or resistance. Below is a video to demonstrate what I’m talking about. The video shows Lucas Krubeck, PTA missing a squat with 565 pounds safely because of these two cues I’ve just discussed. Enjoy and check your squat for knees out and heels down!