Tips to improve your squat
The squat is one of the most productive exercise you can perform. Not many exercises work so many muscles making it an important strength building movement and a superior fat burning exercise also.
A lot of people have problems when squatting, they either complain of sore knees, lower back pain or just can’t get the hang of it. This week we are going to run through a few steps to help you improve your squat.
Let start with the feet, ideally you want to have your heels about shoulder width apart and have turn your toes turned out 15 to 30 degrees, this will let your hips open up so you can get down deep.
Second, start the movement by bending your knees forward and then moving your hips back and down. Your knees need to go right to your toes to allow you to keep your hips close to the midline of your body, this will help keep your back straight. As your moving down drive your knees out to the side to open up your hip, allowing you to squat down while keeping your spine straight. Your knees they stay inline with your toes and your chest is up.
Thirdly, think about bending your knees the whole way down, avoid leaning forward as this is where it leads to lower back pain. You are not pushing your bum out but bring it down, you are bending your knees to keep your bum in. Breath in as you come down.
When at the bottom you want to keep your heels on the ground, your chest upright, your knees pushed out and have your breath held tight. Make sure not to bounce or relax at the bottom of the squat as this will put a lot of pressure on the knee joint.
From the bottom drive with you legs and don’t lift with your lower back or lean forward. Drive up through your legs trying to spread the earth with your feet and pushing your knees out. Drive up through your chest, making your hips and chest raise at the same time.
Squatting below parallel is good for the knees. People who do small range squats with poor form will complain of knee pain, this is often because they have muscle imbalances in the thigh from doing squats incorrectly, as this will work some muscle of the legs more then others. If they were to train squats correctly, and did structural balance exercises, the majority of knee pain would go away.
Some people can’t help but lean forward excessively when they squat, and feel an uncomfortable stress on the lower back around L3-L5. This is often a problem of tight calves that don’t let the knees move forward forcing a person to push their bum to far out causing them to lean forward to get down, it can be simply fixed by stretch the calves in a stiff legged position and a bent leg position.
Another issue is a weak lower back, focusing on back extension, planks and stretching the back of the legs will help develop these important stabilizer muscles.
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