The Squat; probably the most well known exercise, and the best exercise that everyone should be doing! The previous blog posts all lead to the ability to be able to squat, if we lose mobility in the ankle, hips and trunk and thorax then the squat mobility can be less than where we want it to be and where it should be or even lost. We should have the ability to squat down so our butt is on our heel and be able to sustain that position. This position is a bodyweight squat, a functional movement that we should be able to achieve. The ability to be able to squat with hips to heels shows the ability to keep the center or gravity through the heels, and position the ribcage and the organs to descend and the hips in the correct position to allow the femur to move properly through the hip joint.
The inability to get the depth desired on the squat reflects that some chains of muscles might be hyperactive limiting the range of motion, or it can mean the inability to move air and deal with pressure throughout the thorax and pelvis, and finally can mean that not all the muscles are integrating together to allow for the proper form and depth. If proper squat mechanics and mobility is not restored and we load the system with weight, a machine or any external resistance we can be gambling with the health and integrity of joints throughout the body. Most often when people do not address the immobility of their squat and begin to load movements can lock them further into postures, positions or patterns. Repeating this process can lead to overuse, wearing of muscle tissues, vertebral disks, and even bones, so in order to progress through exercise protocols we need to make sure the ability to squat is there.
When squating many will feel the range of motion stop when dropping and trying to get the hips in a low squat position. One can feel limited and/or stuck at the hips, tight hip flexors, tight calves, tight shins, tight upper/lower back , tight neck, heels rising off the floor or the feeling of falling backwards. These are signs that the system is out of balance and something needs to change internally for you to be able to get low.
As in the previous blog post the way to achieve mobility is through first repositioning the hips and thorax. The theme of facilitating the left ab wall will come back time and time again as a recurring muscle that we will need to correct movement patterns, that plus the correct breathing pattern will help you achieve that mobility. The abdominals play a key role in squat mobility by correcting the position of the diaphragm which influences the hip position and the ability to sync the diaphragm and pelvic diaphragm (pelvic floor) respiration to allow for the range of motion desired. The abdominals will also help stabilize the system when we load it with external resistance.
The other aspect is air flow, we must be able to expand the rib cage, push air through the pelvic floor, the inability to push air into the posterior rib cage or the pelvic floor will limit the squat depth. The exercises to help reposition and retrain the body to be able to have the mobility to get butt to heels are the All Four Belly lift that maximizes exhalation and activation of the deep core muscles and puts the hips in the proper position to assist and accept air flow. The second exercise is the standing wall supported reach, it has the same concepts as the all four belly lifts. We are just putting you up on your feet to get the sense and feel of gravity and the ability to maintain position as we breathe.