The SquatGuide™ was recently introduced to the box and the coaches decide to orient James to the piece of equipment. He is shown how to use it with a few progressions that will develop his pattern and mobility over time. James is amazed how quickly his form improves when first using the SquatGuide™. A light bulb goes off. All of a sudden it’s simple for James, as he can immediately tell when his form breaks and then makes the appropriate correction. The SquatGuide™ blocks unwanted movements and facilitates desired movement without the coach having to say a word. Freedom for James, relief for the coaches, and finally real progress.
Squats: The Beautiful Struggle
Talk to any box owner, strength coach, or physical therapist — they all will tell you the same thing: “I wish all my clients could move better.” We relentlessly attempt to educate, guide and develop great patterns and strategies that our clients can apply to any task thrown at them in the gym or life. Though passionate, educated, and determined, our success depends on the client (1)understanding what we want them to do and (2)being able to routinely practice what we want them to do to make a change. This article revolves around the SquatGuide™, a device we’ve developed at Movement Guides, Inc. that is aimed at bridging that gap between what the coach wants and what the athlete does… specifically when it comes to the squat.
The squat is so basic, yet we all struggle with it. For me it’s like a barometer of how things are running physically for myself or my patients. When things are running well, the squat is a thing of beauty, but often that is not the case. Immaturity, lack of instruction, fatigue, injury, weakness, restriction, and anatomy can all be factors that lead to poor squatting form or patterns.
If you look at someone performing his squat head on (from the front or in the frontal plane), draw a line from the person’s hip to the ankle. Medial collapse refers to the knee diving inwards or medial to this line at any point during the squat. Again, why this happens varies greatly between individuals, but watch closely and you’ll see it often. You might see it for the entirety of the squat in a newbie who’s had poor instruction, but you’ll also see it in the experienced lifter as they fatigue or push the limits of their capacity.
Another component of medial collapse seen from the side is the squatter moving her weight into the toes and off the heels of the feet. This usually coincides with the knees moving too far forward during the movement.
Again, the culprit here varies greatly. Limitations in mobility at the hip, knee or ankle; weakness at the spine or hips; collapsing of the medial foot; or simply poor motor programming are just a few of the potential causes. Whatever the reason, simple cues by a good coach can correct and eventually prevent its occurrence.
- Neutral spine
- Active hip external rotators
- Femur at least in same plane as foot (knees out)
- Knees travel in same plane on descent and ascent
- Sit back in your heels
- Keep shins back
- Push out, not up
- Grip the floor
- Spread the floor with your feet