Is foam rolling always necessary before doing squats?

is foam rolling always necessarySometimes people ask us whether it is always necessary for them to do foam rolling before performing lower body exercises such as squats. The question usually comes up because they are finding the rolling takes up quite a lot of their scarce time, which they feel should be set aside for exercise.

There is no doubt about it, lower body foam rolling can be very time consuming. In our self-treatment videos, part 3a and part 3b, we go through six basic foam rolls we recommend for people suffering from knee pain. Even if you were only going to spend a minute on each roll, that would take up 12 minutes (one roll for each side of the body) – more like 15 minutes if we include time to transition between each roll. Those with particularly stubborn knots in their muscles might not find this is enough time and it would take even longer. Explained like this, it’s easy to see how this sort of work can eat into a training session. Continue reading

Explaining clicking knees during squats

knee clicking squatsClicking joints during exercise, or movement in general, can be both confusing and frustrating. The origins are not always clear, so when one of our clients found she experienced clicking in her knees during a wide-stance regular squat, but not during the similar movement of the sissy squat, we decided to give it some thought. Even though both these exercises involve bending the knees, the fact there was minimal clicking when performing sissy squats (or more traditional narrower knees style squats), but that there was clicking with the wider kneed, split-the-floor-with-the-feet style squats, tells us something straight away. Continue reading

Movement training – where will it move to next?

movement trainingThe techniques on this website, designed to help people fix their knee problems, all centre on improving the way in which a person moves, including correcting a soft-tissue restriction, re-cueing the form of a body movement, and strengthening corrected movements. The conscious practice of such techniques has been around for centuries, although it may have focussed primarily on improving movements to aid the performance of a specific task, such as throwing a spear or striking with a sword, rather than the practice of improving movements purely to fix injuries as a means in itself. Training to correct the way a person moves is rising in popularity, though, and it has become more and more accessible with the rise of the internet. Our opinion at KneeStrength, however, is that it is not yet popular enough. Continue reading

The importance of upper back position for balanced squats

upper back squat balanceTo conclude our series concerning how best to maintain squat balance, we’re now going to look at upper back position. In case you missed the earlier articles in the series, we started with a simple question, how to maintain squat balance, and have so far explored options for ankle flexibility, improving quad strength, and .

The correct upper back position in the squat is sometimes referred to with the “chest-up” cue. You need to think about keeping your rib-cage high throughout the squat, which is achieved through contracting the muscles either side of your upper (thoracic) spine. As well as the “chest-up” cue, you will hear this referred to as “creating thoracic spine extension”. It helps with balance in the squat as it prevents the upper back from rounding over (forwards), which can tip the weight on the bar forwards, along with the person. Continue reading

How to keep your thighs externally rotated during the squat

external hip rotation and squatsThe next component in in the squat is using the hip muscles (glutes) to externally rotate the thighs throughout the exercise. Use of the hips is an often forgotten element of good squat technique, but without understanding and using these muscles properly you will limit the transfer of force from the legs to the back. And, as we have covered in the quad strength article, relying predominantly on your back strength leads to an imbalanced excessive forward leaning squat. So how do you effectively use your hips in the squat? Continue reading

Improving your quad strength to master back position in squats

quad strength for backs squatsThe next component for improving your balance in the squat (after ) is understanding the role that quad strength plays in preventing excessive forward lean. As we showed in our first article in this series, an extreme lean forwards can make squatting seem easier, and help with early balance problems, but eventually it will create other problems. Addressing the strength in your quads thus becomes the key to lasting balance and strength. Continue reading

Techniques to improve your ankle flexibility for effective squats

ankle flexibility for squatsAn important part of maintaining effective balance during the squat, and ensuring that your knees track outwards, is working on your overall ankle flexibility. Your shin needs to be able to move forwards slightly (roughly the length of a foot), and sideways (that is, outwards), in order to push the knees out far enough to give you space to squat down into. This ankle movement creates what we call a “diagonal shin” – as the shin moves out diagonally from the heel. How much your shin travels outwards will depend on how wide your stance is, as the closer the stance, the wider the knees need to move relative to the feet – but however far you need to travel, the main problem to tackle will be tightness in the calf muscles. Continue reading

How to maintain your balance during the squat

squat balanceA YouTube fan recently told us she had a problem squatting down to parallel. She could only get about half way down before it felt like she was stuck and it would be impossible to get any lower without falling over backwards.

There are a host of issues which contribute to this problem: they can arise from difficulties in technique, strength or flexibility. This means there is no one answer to this question – but we can offer a range of solutions. Continue reading

How to keep those “knees out” for good during the squat

knees out squatRegular readers of the site will have seen how often we stress the importance of keeping the knees outside the feet during squatting movements. This article will give you tips to ensure you always keep your knees out and avoid the dreaded problem of knees caving in.

You gotta have sole

The rubber soles on your training shoes are a secret weapon that help you keep the knees outside the feet at all points during your squats. Continue reading

Why some pain is inevitable when improving your knees

knee pain exerciseKnee pain is a vicious cycle. When it hurts to exercise your knees, you don’t want to exercise. When you don’t exercise, certain muscles weaken. When certain muscles weaken, the muscle strength in your legs becomes imbalanced. When your leg muscles are imbalanced, it hurts to exercise your knees. And so it goes.

In order to prevent that imbalance, and break free from the cycle, you need to be prepared to exercise through some discomfort. You need to expect, and accept, some discomfort in the knees as you first tackle sissy squats. More important than anything, you need to keep going for long enough to make a difference. Continue reading