As a personal trainer, exercise physiologist and athlete I see all kinds of versions of squats. Even if you don’t workout we all have to squat as a part of functional movement in our everyday lives. Think about how often you use a squat and if you have bad form then how many times a day you squat with poor form leading to injury now or delayed injury from improper mechanics.
If you look at kids and toddlers they have the most excellent form when squatting down to get things from the floor. This is likely due to their activity level and have not yet created bad habits from driving, sitting or overuse from occupations. I can think of several ways you squat in your daily life just off the top of my head or when you should be squatting and NOT bending over at the waist torqueing your back.
Daily squats as part of a functional way of living may be as follows depending on your lifestyle:
- Sitting on the toilet
- Getting into or out of an automobile (more of a modified 1 leg squat)
- Sitting down and getting up from chair or couch
- Picking up something from the floor
- Loading bags or heavy dogfood into the car or from the car to storage
- Getting or placing items from a low shelf, cabinet or drawer
- Picking up or putting down on floor small children
- Picking up or putting down various sizes or dogs or cats
- Moving furniture
- Cleaning baseboards if you are a clean freak
- Getting out of a low bed with both feet on ground
- Putting stuff in or taking out of laundry units
- Occupations that require lifting heavy items or persons
You get my point…there are many combined chances that incorporate squats into daily activity without much mindfulness of proper form. Tight muscles in the calves, low back and many muscles of the upper body that help with posture can prevent good squat form.
This post I really wanted to just keep simple and bring to your awareness your squatting form. I often see toes out, butt not tucked under, too much leaning forward with the upper body or heels coming off the ground when I ask clients to perform a squat. Some toe out is normal for some people. We are all designed with different mechanics but there is a general correct form guidelines.
Did you know that a normal healthy full range of motion for the ankle joint is 70 degrees. Aiming for 50 degrees of plantar flexion (pointing your toes away from your lower leg) and 20 degrees of dorsiflexion (pointing your toes toward your lower leg and shin). Of course there is the other ranges which is eversion and inversion pictured below but that would be a whole other post. Something to consider though when analyzing a squat as when clients load (go into or come out of the squat) are they, are you turning your ankle in or out to make the squat happen (cheating).
Check out the short videos below to become better at squatting.
Take a video of yourself squatting about 4 times facing the camera and then to the side as to see for yourself what you may need to work on. Try correcting your form and do a follow up video a few weeks later to see your progress.
If you are having trouble getting down low enough then aim for a chair or bench or even hold onto a wall or put a broomstick in the other side of a doorway and get to squatting.
I had mentioned to a client and friend that I was surprised that her calves weren’t tight because she wore heels everyday to work for years. She shared with me that she does ball/wall squats every day for about 25-50 reps and has for years and she contributes that to her great legs and no calf issues. I must say, she does have great squatting form and great legs!
Here’s a ball/wall squat with dumbbell
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Tonya Tittle, M.S., ACSM
Owner/Dir. of Training, Energy Fitness (established 2002)
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