One of the first responses that I hear from people when we talk about this is… “I don’t do squats”. Well… Maybe you don’t “do squats”, but if you sit up and down from a chair, sit up and down from a toilet, get on and off a couch, or get into or out of a car… Chances are that you squat on a regular basis. Everybody squats!
Squats are a great exercise. One of the things that make squats unique is that a squat is one of the most informative functional activities and exercises that we can do. How well a person squats can tell you a lot about limitations or deficits in their strength, flexibility, and postural control. For most, squatting may be just bending the knees and waist lowering themselves down to the floor followed by standing back up, but what I see when they squat is this:
- Spinal mobility
- Trunk postural control
- Pelvic postural control
- Hip flexibility
- Calf flexibility
- Trunk strength
- Hip strength
- Leg strength
- Body symmetry
- Leg postural control
Limitations in any of these areas can lead to pain and performance deficits and increases the likelihood for injury. A quick test to give yourself a baseline for your ability to squat is the wall squat test.
Knowing what to do to improve a squat is not always easy, especially for those who have any pain or are recovering from an existing injury. The important thing to do is learn what limitations you may have and then work on activities to help address those limitations.
How do you know what you need to work on? That is an easy answer. That is when you schedule a time to meet with me and go over your squatting mechanics and what you can do to improve them. Until then, here is a simple thing you can do to help improve your symmetry when you squat. Go stand in front of a mirror and imagine a line right down the middle of your body. Squat a comfortable depth while making sure to keep your body evenly split by the imaginary line down the middle of your body. If you can, then great! If you can’t, then continue to practice 10-20 reps for 1-3 sets a couple of times a week as long as you can perform the motion pain free.
Functional Physical Therapy Center provides physical therapy, performance training programs, and Titleist Performance Institute golf assessments in the Boise, Idaho area.