Breaking Down the Squat: Mobility Issues Part I

by Dr. Nathan Hinkeldey on June 5, 2014


When you hear squat, what do you think about? Is it weight lifting, going to the bathroom, or is it going from a seated position to a standing position? Squatting is a movement that most associate only with weight lifting; however, this movement is important for all of our daily functions. Understanding the proper squatting form will not only increase your one rep max, it will appropriately distribute the force throughout the hips and decrease the likelihood of injuring your low back or knees. The purpose of this post is to analyze mobility issues commonly associated with the squat movement, and in subsequent sections, we will show you how to fix areas lacking proper mobility. THE PROPER SQUAT Understanding limitations within the squat movement first requires knowledge of what an appropriate squat looks like.  An excellent example of an appropriate squat is seen in children. If you are a parent, you have a perfect example of what pure, untainted movement really looks like.  Children have not yet been injured, immobile, or developed compensatory movement; therefore, they are the model for movement. A child’s squat is depicted below and we can see that the following is true: Head is in a neutral position, lumbar spine in neutral (not extended or flexed), feet are shoulder width apart, knees are tracking over the feet but not past the toes, weight is on the heels, torso is upright,and the crease of the hips is below 90 degrees. The latter will spread the stress associated with movement of lifting throughout the body instead of over using one joint. You may have been told or heard that old adage that you lift with your knees and not your back. While stated for good reasons (to protect your back) this statement couldn’t be more improper. Instead,  you lift with a coordinated movement through all joints in the body in order to share the load. Choosing to target one joint or another is the recipe for disaster.

A great example of how we should squat.



In order to appropriately analyze the squat there are a few things to be aware of. First, you have to decide if the issue is a mobility (needs stretching or manipulation) or stability (needs stabilization) type of issue. Fixing mobility can take time; however, most of the time it is much easier to fix a mobility issue than a stability issue. Starting with mobility, you have to approach movement analysis with a consistent pattern. Starting from the ground up seems to be what most choose. Hopefully this has served as a good introduction to squatting for all of those out there interested in lifting, or participating in life. With this series of posts, Dr. Nate Hinkeldey and Dr. Brock Vosberg of Team Chiropractic and Rehabilitation will continue to analyze individual squats providing you with examples illustrating how to localize mobility issues and then, more importantly, how to fix them. Their philosophy is to provide each patient with the information they need to stay healthy without having to frequently report back to the office. If you have questions or concerns, regarding an issue you have, feel free to click contact us, and they will answer any questions you may have.


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