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

Everything you need to know about feet position in the squat

feet position squatBeing 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

How squats can help with fallen arches

fallen arches squatsCollapsing 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

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 better knee positioning could make Usain Bolt run faster

GE DIGITAL CAMERA We all know Usain Bolt is fast. Really fast. But he could be faster. A quick look at his start, out of the blocks, tells us that. By considering the positioning of his knees, and the alignment of his legs, he could improve his speed – and his future health. Here’s how:

What’s the issue?

After he pushes against the blocks for his immediate start, for the next few steps his foot and leg are turned out when pushing back against the ground. This rotates his body, so the knee of the lead leg has to come in. It drives across his body (as shown in these pictures) in order to counter the rotation. Continue reading

Effective progression with weighted squats

personal training regime for weighted squatsOur previous post emphasised the importance of reflecting on your exercises using sissy squats as an example. To reach our final stages of progression in overcoming patella maltracking, it is essential to employ the same mentality to weighted squats. Like with the sissy squats, we will try to stick to low rep sets (around 5 reps), to allow more sets and more time for reflecting on technique. There is a lot more to think of with regular squats, so this brief guide will help structure your overall progression: Continue reading