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Why Your Squat Might Suck: Deep Hip Sockets

Continuing with the idea of anatomical variants affecting squat mechanics, another reason why your squat might suck is the shape of your acetabulum. This is the socket portion of the ball and socket joint that makes up your hip. The convex head of the femur sits in a concave surface of the acetabulum. This allows for a significant amount of range of triplanar motion: flexion/extension, adduction/abduction, internal/external rotation. But the shape of the acetabulum can allow for either significantly more or less range of motion.


Dr. Stuart McGill, PhD and leading spine researcher, talks in his books and lectures about different hip morphologies that impact squat mechanics, specifically, the Dalmatian Hip versus the Celtic Hip.

The Dalmatian Hip is described as a shallow, flatter socket joint. This allows for a greater degree of movement before the femur "collides" with the rim of the acetabulum. Dr. McGill states that this type of hip shape is seen in more Eastern European countries and is potentially a reason as to why these countries are typically very successful in Olympic Weightlifting. This type of hip morphology allows for more power to be generated with a greater degree of hip flexion.


Conversely, there is the Celtic Hip, which is deeper, boxier acetabulum. This limits the degree of hip flexion, as the femur "collides" with the rim of the acetabulum. As the name implies, this type of morphology is seen in Celtic populations as well as parts of Northern France. Now a person with Celtic hips may not squat very well, but alternatively may be able to produce power at terminal hip extension. For instance, the Caber Toss from the Highland Games requires significant power upon hip extension.


The Celtic Hip may be a limiting factor when it comes to hitting depth in the squat without compromising your spine. You may be able to modify your squat stance slightly to allow for more depth by externally rotating your hips. But, ultimately, the deep squat may not be in your wheelhouse. And conversely, a person with the Dalmatian hip might not be the best deadlifter or Caber toss competitor when it comes to locking out at the top.


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