Functional Squatting

Functional Squatting

This is a blog on functional squatting.


My name is Chase Miller and I am a Kinesiology student at George Mason University. I have been Dr. Donnelly?s intern at Sport and Spine Rehab (Fairfax) for the past couple of months and would like to share with you the importance of squat form and how it is a part of your normal daily life.

Does your life require you to bend over and pick things up? Do you work at a counter, do dishes or sit in a chair? If you have pain while performing these movements, you may be moving in an incorrect manner.? You shouldn?t only think of squatting when you?re at the gym or in a rehab setting. The squat is much more dynamic and functional than this and should be included as a part of your normal daily activities.

Proper form during the squat is important because it shifts strain from the lower back to the larger, stronger muscles of the hamstrings and glutes. This may seem like more work, but the more you do, the stronger they get, and the easier it becomes.

In a normal body weight squat there are several basic steps to follow when focusing on squat form. Starting in a standing position, maintain an erect, tall posture. In this position, it is normal to have a slight curve of the spine, this is good. Additionally, make sure to keep your toes and knees pointed in the same direction.

You will perform a hip hinge. This movement involves pushing the buttocks back. This segment is sometimes taught by taking your hands and chopping down at your waist. By doing so, you should notice how your buttocks moves backwards. It is important to maintain your normal curvature of the spine so that there is minimal added strain on the back. It may be helpful to think about your glutes and hamstrings.? We want you to feel the work being done more by these muscles and less in your quads and back.

At the same time your knees are bending. If done incorrectly a squat can place unnecessary strain on the knees. As you flex at the knee, try and maintain that backwards shift of the buttocks. Try not to let your quads take over and cause your knees to shift forward. This places shear forces on the ligaments. Instead, sit back and use those hamstrings and glutes to take the strain off the vulnerable joints of the body, namely the knee and the spine.

From this knee bend position, maintain balance by keeping your feet and toes flat on the floor upon your return to a normal, standing position. This will help improve your proprioception (joint positional awareness through space and time) and balance ability.

The most common difficulty we see is getting used to shifting the weight backwards and not bringing the knees forward. An easy correction to this involves squatting with a chair. Face the edge of a chair with your feet just below the edge. Perform a squat. If your knees come in contact with the chair, you are letting your knees come forward too much. Try and minimize this forward lean by shifting your weight backwards.? It will probably take some practice before this feels normal.

You can also try squatting with the assistance of a doorway. Hold on to the door frame (palms out) and allow your body weight to shift back. Perform a squat. This assisted modification will help prevent excessive forward knee bend. If you have them available, TRX straps are another alternative

So how do squats relate to real life? When performing daily activities such as washing your face at a low sink, picking up a child or sitting back into a chair, your form is important. They are functional and dynamic and require correct technique to prevent added stress on the back and improve strength. The more you practice correct technique, the more comfortable these movements will become and the stronger these muscles will develop.? Remember that squats aren?t restricted to gym and clinical settings.

If you have pain with any of these movements, consult your provider. They will be able to implement progressions or regressions based on your individual ability. There are numerous modifications that can be made to the squat to make it easier or harder, but this is the most basic way of performing a simple body weight squat. I hope this helps you to become a healthy and happier you!

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