By Dr. Nikky Gonzales PT, DPT, CSCS
With the Halloween season upon us, let’s address what some people consider a “spooky” exercise: the SQUAT. Whether this exercise is performed with weights, a barbell, or just your bodyweight; once you understand the proper technique, it’s a piece of cake. Let’s start from the ground up with some tips to make the squat less of a fright:
Foot and Ankle
- The angle in which your toes are pointing out to the side really depends on your individual hip alignment. However, a safe assumption is about 7-10°.
- Keep the arch of your foot from collapsing inward. Think about keeping your heel, big toe, and pinky toe all in contact with the ground at the same time.
- The knees should stay directly above and in alignment with the feet. A common mistake is to allow the knees to drift inwards towards each other, which puts undue stress on the tissues inside the knee joint.
- Balance issues can occur if as you descend into the squat, your knees drift in front of your toes resulting in your heels coming off the ground. Good knee alignment is crucial for a stable squat.
Hips and Lower Back
- The first motion to start your squat should be a slight flexing of your hips that we call “hinging.” This helps initiate the gluteal muscles that move the hips, and drives the cue: “sit back into a chair.”
- The lower back should maintain a “neutral” position, which means there is not excessive rounding or arching. This is especially the case when we are squatting with weights or the barbell. Bracing the abdominal muscles before and during our squat is essential in maintaining good lower back health.
The squat is a great exercise way to build up the strength of our leg musculature. Whether your goal is to safely stand up from a chair or train for a sport: the squat is an essential exercise for you. Don’t be terrified by it, start squatting today!
About Dr. Nikky Gonzales PT, DPT, CSCS
Dr. Gonzales is a certified strength and conditioning specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. As a physical therapist, Nikky believes in fostering independence and positive mentalities. He hopes to encourage people to return to their favorite hobbies and activities by educating and providing people with the tools to help themselves move better. Nikky was born and raised in Fresno, California, and he enjoys playing sports of all kinds, working out, hiking, and watching Liverpool FC and Bay Area sports teams on the weekends.