The squat is an amazing exercise for a variety of reasons. It's one of the best tools we utilize when treating low back disorders that are often brought on by or worsened due to poor core and hip strength and/or coordination. As great of a movement as the squat is, all too often, most people's squats suck. And there is a number of reasons as to why they might suck. This series will identify some of those reasons and address how to improve on them.
Starting from the ground up, your squat might suck because of your flat feet. Look down at your feet, if they look like pancakes shaped like a foot, guess what? They're flat. Flat feet or excessive pronation can be a nightmare for squat mechanics as they often cause excessive internal rotation of the lower legs, and can be accompanied by excessive internal rotation of the hips. This can lead to a lack of glute activation and a quadriceps/adductor dominant squat as well as wreak havoc on your low back, which will be touched upon in subsequent series.
Flat feet can be caused by weak intrinsic foot musculature. If left unchecked long enough this can result in a plastic deformation of the foot. In other words, *permanent* deformation. At this point, an orthotic insert may be beneficial, but if it's not too late, the musculature can be strengthened and your arches saved. Through a series of different walking exercises dubbed "The Foot Drills", you can strengthen your feet, lower legs, and improve your ankle range of motion. The Foot Drills are compromised of 6 different variations of foot and ankle positions including: - duck walking (external rotation) - pigeon toe walking (internal rotation) - inversion walking (like rolling your ankle) - eversion walking (lifting to the outsides of your feet) - toe walking backwards (like moonwalking but on those tiptoes) - heel walking (lift those tiptoes) All these movements are meant to be performed barefoot except heel walking.
Try them out and see how it goes. You might not notice an immediate improvement to your squat but it's a start!
Stay tuned for the next installment of Why Your Squat Might Suck: Poor Ankle Dorsiflexion!
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