“I can’t squat”
“My knees hurt.”
“Well, let’s have a look at your squat.”
…22 seconds later…
“Are you feeling pain now?”
“Wow! Not at all!”
I often wonder if our cavemen ancestors had movement issues.
They didn’t have coaches to show them how to move properly, or inform them about how going into ketosis is OK during the low food season. Then again, our ancestors weren’t sitting all day in their cars & at their desks, and didn’t pound big-gulps and big-macs. So hey who am I to judge?
The effect of all this modernization is that we spend a remarkable amount of time in “created” positions that really aren’t that natural. Yeah, like the one you’re in now, kinda hunched over at your desk, with your neck extended and your spine all curled up. Caught ya. ;)
So we, as awesome ancestral bloggers & coaches, have to try to get you to correct the daily ugly-ness you put your body through. A lot of the time, we need to get you to overcompensate. That’s what this post is about.
When you squat, you should have your weight toward your heels.
As a check, you should be able to raise your toes for the entire duration of the squat, even at the bottom. This ensures the proper recruitment of all the goodness in the back of your leg (hamstrings and glutes). This should also keep your feet from producing any torque while you squat. Yes, some people, as they squat, will turn the foot out more and more. It’s a little disturbing, and it shows MAJOR imbalances in both flexibility and muscle strength. Are you one of these people? Then get back in your heels!
There have also been some people who are very concerned about the where the knee is in relation to the toes, mostly saying that the knee should never go past the front of the toe. While this advice may be founded in safety, it’s not necessarily found in athletes. If you’re keeping your weight into the heel of the foot, your knees should naturally track in a good position. Sometimes, we will use cues for the knees to be back, but this is to ensure that the weight is properly loaded into the heel.
How you move everyday can tell you a lot about your squat.
Do you crash down into your chair at work, landing like a sack of sweet potatoes? Are you only engaging that amazing musculature for 1/5th its intended range of motion? Could you sit down onto a kid’s chair and stand up without having to push on your own legs? These are the important questions, my friend. Very, very important questions.
Whenever you stand up, you should try to keep the focus of the weight as far back in your foot as possible. Realize that if you can already squat like these guys (YouTube link), you probably don’t have any flexibility issues. The rest of us, however, probably need some work. Keeping your weight toward the heel of your foot will do just that. I’m not saying that it will turn you into a yogi, but being able to squat all the way down, “ass to ankles” as they say, should be considered a normal range of motion. And you should be able to do it while keeping your entire foot on the ground (don’t come up on your toes!), or even better, with your toes up. ;)
Think, “Heels, heels, heels,” when you’re squatting.
So, when you squat, either your coach, or I, or SOMEONE should probably be telling you to keep the weight back towards your heels. You should be able to raise your toes up off the ground during the whole movement, even at the bottom. It’s key.
Once you’ve developed some proficiency, yeah, we can move the weight a little forward, but you’re never going to hear ANYONE say squat on your toes. So, heel doggie! And get low!
By the way, for an easy daily workout, try doing 50 nice deep squats before every meal. You’ll get stronger, increase your flexibility, and prime your metabolism before eating. It’s win, win, win!
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