When you have one leg that is stronger than the other, it will impact the form you use during your exercises. This can reinforce muscle imbalances, as the stronger leg takes over the exercise and it becomes difficult to handle the load through your weaker leg. There’s one simple way to overcome this balance, but it requires taking care and focus. Simply put: slow down. Continue reading
Following on from the account of my experiences of the wide-stance squat, to maximise external rotation, let’s address the feeling of strain that a wide-stance can produce. Many people get scared off from the exercise – people have injured themselves doing it, which gives others an excuse to shy from an exercise that requires effort. But it’s very important that you recognise the difference between the effort required by the style, placing a large demand on the hips, and the idea that the “strain” demanded by the hips could be damaging. Done correctly, the pressure you feel is not harmful. You just have to be sure you are doing it right. Continue reading
When suffering with patellofemoral pain there are two traits of the squat exercise which can initially bring on pain or discomfort in your knees. Here we will explain those traits and come up with short-term workarounds to help the beginner get started with squats, make some progress, and do so with limited discomfort in the knees. Continue reading
As you progress in your exercises, it’s important to remember that what you learn in one exercise may not always be directly applicable to another. With squats and sissy squats, which similar names and similar principles, there are many factors that make them different. You must beware of these differences, to avoid mistakes.
1. Purpose of the squat exercises
Sissy squats are a specialist exercise aimed to help people with patella maltracking restore proper balance in their quadriceps muscles, to ensure the patella does not rub against the condyles of the femur. Squats are the most fundamental movement a human being performs. Using them as an exercise teaches and develops proper movement patterns and strength throughout the whole body.
Clicking 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
Being the only part of your body in contact with the ground, how you position your feet during the squat is of critical importance. Variables such as the angle of your feet, stance width, foot position within shoe, and heel height must all be considered if your are to maximise the efficiency of your squat technique, to best achieve and maintain strong healthy knees. This article will cover the major feet considerations you should make (and always be aware of) when performing squat exercises. Continue reading
Collapsing arches in the feet can cause problems for many people in everyday life. Fallen arches, or pes planus, is something as many as 30% of people may suffer from, often causing a lot of pain – but it something that our exercises can help with. As well as addressing patella maltracking and knee pain problems, the cue of “knees out” that we use so often here, particularly during squats, is an excellent way to work at maintaining your foot arches. Continue reading
To 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 keeping your thighs externally rotated.
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
The next component in preventing excessive forward lean for balance 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
The next component for improving your balance in the squat (after ankle flexibility) 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