Squatting is one of the most, if not the most functional movement in human life. Getting on/off of the toilet, lifting things up, putting things down; a lot of what we do in life involves squatting in one way or another. Therefore, squatting is often an integral part of physiotherapy management, gym routines, and functional training. This means that as physiotherapists, we are often asked questions about squats. This blog post aims to address some of those questions.
Disclaimer: * We will start your new understanding of squats first by saying, if anything hurts, and continues to hurt after some easy cues (read on!), and you don’t know why - please see a healthcare practitioner you trust and complete appropriate rehabilitation.
I’ve Never Squatted Before! Where Should I Start?
Here’s where you start:
Do your best squat in front of a mirror. Keep your heels on the ground and lower yourself as far as possible.
Simple Squat Cues and Progressions
To perform a comfortable, safe squat, try these cues:
Once you are able to squat with perfect form (see this video of a perfect goblet squat:)
(a body weight squat looks the same just without the weight!), then start working them into your daily routine! Try to do 10 squats, 2-3 times per day and progress from there! Remember to keep good form!
As you get comfortable with body weight squats you may want to progress to weights. Typically, progressing through different types of squatting looks something like this:
What’s most important is that you have safe, good form. It doesn’t matter how much weight you can lift if you can’t do it safely. Choosing the proper squat also depends on your goals. Is your goal to safely get on and off the toilet 5-10x/day?, or is your goal to compete in a bodybuilding competition? Work towards a goal, and work towards it safely.
How Low Should I Go?
Again, this depends on your goal. If your goal is to get on and off of the toilet safely, you need to be able to squat low enough to reach the toilet. That would mean very different things for someone who is 5’0” and someone who is 6’5”. It might mean squatting to 80 degrees or squatting to 110 degrees.
If muscle building is your goal, it depends what muscles you are trying to build. This picture shows the maximum muscle activity of each muscle at different squat depths:
So if your goal is to build your glute (bum) muscles, you should squat past 90 degrees to maximally activate these muscles. Again, only if you can do so safely, with good form. We will touch on depth again in the ‘Squatting for Performance’ blog post (coming soon), but if strength and function are your goals, you want to squat as deep as you safely and comfortably can, because that way, you’ll be able to use this range and strength throughout everyday living! Train the range you want to use!
Lose Your Balance? Knees Fall Inwards? Can’t Squat Deep?
Many people will experience some sort of issue when trying to do a squat with perfect form, even if it’s a body-weight-only squat. There are many potential causes to these problems:
Want to get excellent at squatting? Want to improve your function or get out of pain? At Strive Physiotherapy and Performance, we are committed to providing an in-depth assessment to ensure we can work together to find the best plan of action for each individual client. Call us at 519-895-2020, or use our online booking tool on www.strivept.ca to book a one-on-one appointment with one of our knowledgeable physiotherapists, and they will be sure to help you understand your injury.
Mike Major and Tyler Allen
Physiotherapists at Strive Physiotherapy & Performance
Strive Physiotherapy & Performance
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