Following on from our article on toes turning out during squats, which discussed fixing such a problem during wide-stance squats, this piece looks at the foot-angle issue from the perspective of the toes staying where they are but the heels sliding in.
The first part of the solution is fairly simple: distribute more of your weight back into the heels of your feet so they have more traction with the floor surface and are less likely to slide in. The weight distribution needs to be even between the 3 key areas of the foot (ball of the foot; outside edge of the foot; and the heel (especially the inside half of the heel)).
Correct hip position in wide-stance squats
The harder part of getting the weight distribution right is what you do with your hip position. Often when people try this remedy, they end up trying to make the correction by sitting their hips back too far. When using a wide stance, if the hips go back too far, the knees end up caving in too narrow and the form totally collapses. Whilst the hips do go back in a wide stance squat, they don’t go back that far. The corrective coaching cue needed for a person with this issue is the opposite of the “sit back” cue, so often used in squat coaching, but instead “hips between heels” should be used. This cue should aim to position the hips slightly behind the line of the wide knees but no further back than is correct. To use this cue you need to be conscious of keeping the torso as upright as possible on the descent, as you think about feeling the right amount of weight distributed in the heels.
Most people will find the limiting factor to applying the “hips between heels” cue correctly is tightness in their hip capsules. Fortunately our last article provided an explanation of how to improve hip capsule mobility. That article explained “go to do a wide stance squat very slowly and stop your descent as soon as you feel an urge for your toes to turn out”. This same lesson can be applied to sliding heels, i.e. stop your descent as soon as you feel an urge for you heels to slide in and then hold that area and work the stretch hard.
Combining the tips given in these two articles helps lead to a strong base for correct wide-stance squat form, reducing unnecessary movements. Focusing closely on the details like this is exactly what is needed to resolve all your problems.