How many times a day do you stand up from a chair, get out of a car, or pick something up off the floor? Answer is, probably several times a day. Squats are an essential movement to our daily living and it’s important that we keep these muscles strong. Here is a guide to help you perform a safe and effective squatting movement.
Muscles being worked: Hamstrings, Quadriceps, and gluteus maximus
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed forward. This is an important step because if your stance is too narrow it will be difficult to balance and will cause poor movement. Keep your spine long and strong, in a neutral position. We want to have a solid base of support before performing the action to protect our knees and our hips.
Performing a Squat:
While keeping your spine in a neutral, upright position, bend your knees and push your hips back to go into a squat. You should feel your weight predominately on your heels. Make sure to keep your chest up as you bend your knees. NEVER bend with your back as this could cause injury. In addition, when you are performing a squat, don’t allow your knees to internally rotate.
As you perform this movement, you want your knees to be in line with your second toe. It’s been stated that if your knees go over your toes, it’s considered bad form. However, an injury to the knees is more likely to be due to leaning the trunk forward, causing a shearing force on the knees. It’s acceptable for your knees to go past your toes, but we still want to avoid excessive forward movement of the knee during a squat.
To maintain your balance while doing a squat, use your arms and be sure to keep your heels on the ground. Bring your arms forward as you bend your knees. Then, pull your arms back to gain momentum, as you push with your legs back to the starting position.
Before you incorporate squats into your workout routine, make sure you have good form and feel comfortable with the movement. Practicing in a mirror is a great way to see your movement and correct any errors you may have – are you keeping your back straight, are you keeping your chest up, how far are your knees over your toes, etc.
If you’re not comfortable with squats or you need to build up your lower body strength first, try attempting sit-to-stands or squatting with a chair in front of you for support.