Squatting is simple- get down and get back up. It’s an essential movement for everyone. Children often hold a squat and play. We all must squat, to differing heights, to get on and off the toilet. The elderly need to be able to sit down and stand up on their own to promote quality of life and longevity- this is a squat!
But squatting actually isn’t simple. There are 101 ways to squat, some awesome and some not so awesome. However, there are five “principles” that are true across all of the barbell squats. I’m not sure these are the only principles, in fact I know they are not, and I’m not sure principle is the right word. Anyway, these are five pieces of the squat that I am constantly emphasizing with patients.
#1 Set up and create tension while the barbell is in the rack- Place your hands, set your feet under the bar, full grip on the bar and elbows down. Then unrack the bar and maintain this while you squat.
#2 Toes stay down- Feet should remain fully planted. Big toes and heels stay down, screw feet out into the floor and descend into your squat.
#3 Maintain Stacked Position- Use a PVC or broomstick to check your ribs and pelvic position throughout the range. The stick should remain in contact with back of your head, mid back (between the shoulder blades) and hips.
#4 Hip Below Knees- This position is not unsafe or bad for your knees. In fact, it is healthy for your knees to have full range of motion. Warning: this will lead to glute gainz that might lead you to needing new pants.
#5 Bar over midfoot- Regardless of the type of squat, the bar should still be aligned over the middle of your foot. Take some film of yourself the next time you squat and see how it looks!!
You can find more about this and videos here: jackievarnum.dpt Instagram
If you have pain when you squat, try applying these principles. This is a great way to find major movement deficits and clean them up.
If you can’t seem to add weight to your squat, apply these principles. Creating more tension with shoulder and foot set up can be enough to help you put up bigger numbers.
Maybe your squat is perfect...
Probably not. Apply these principles!
Thanks for reading,
Dr. Jackie, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS
Dr. Danny and Dr. Jackie's views on performance improvement, injury prevention and sometimes other random thoughts.