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Reasons you’re not getting deep enough (that’s what she said) By Courtney Shepherd and Breaking Muscle
Last week I talked about how much I love the squat, squats are my favorite. But not just any squat, the air squat. . . the full range of motion, hip crease below knee crease, below parallel air squat. My love for this functional movement even earned me a title of “mean”. I did realize however, after so many requests for athletes to get lower in their squats, that perhaps them no going below parallel wasn’t because they didn’t want to but it was because they simply couldn’t. Some athletes may have physical limitations that either inhibit their abilities to get below parallel or they can get below parallel with discomfort.
In an article titled “4 Reasons You’re Not Getting Deep Enough in Your Squats” in Breaking Muscle by Tyson Austin, the author addresses 4 possible reasons an athlete may have trouble reaching full depth in their squat. Establishing that one of these possibilities is in fact the answer, may provide us an opportunity to address it and help improve our squat.
Reason #1- The Spine
If you have any misalignments in your lumbosacral region, you will be putting pressure on your nervous system and interfering with its signaling to your lower extremities. If you don’t have proper nervous system signaling to your lower extremities, you can see how they will not be working optimally or properly.
Reason #2- The Hips
In most jobs these days sitting is involved for long periods of time, which can be detrimental to musculature in the hip area. While you are sitting at your desk for hours on end, your hip flexors are chronically activated (shortened), while the hip extensors are chronically inhibited (lengthened). This does not bode well for you when you attempt to squat. The main thing you want to do is work on lengthening the hip flexors, namely the psoas, via daily stretches, myofascial release, foam rolling, lacrosse ball smashing, and flossing.
Reason #3- The Knees
Next up are the knees, specifically the under activation of the vastus medialis muscle and the over activation of the tensor fascia latae muscle and its tendinous attachment known as the iliotibial tract. These muscles are not necessarily going to affect your squat depth, however, they do play a huge role in knee joint alignment. They also play a huge role in many cases of knee pain, which can ultimately affect your ability to squat. If the vastus medialis muscle is under activated it allows the iliotibial tract to pull your patella laterally and can result in the aforementioned knee pain, known as patellofemoral pain or runner’s knee.
Reason #4- The Ankles
The thing we want to know is how good your dorsiflexion is. To assess this you can do a functional movement test where you kneel on one knee, have the other foot planted on the ground with toes about five inches from the wall. Then, lunge forward toward the wall. If you can do this with no problem and your front heel stays firmly rooted on the ground then your dorsiflexion of that ankle is mostly likely sufficient. Obviously you want to assess both ankles. If you are like many and either heel comes off the ground, then the ankles are definitely a culprit that is keeping you from achieving optimal squat depth. There are also several different ankle mobility drills that you can do at home that will speed up the process as well.
From mobility to exercises to seeking care from chiropractors/ physical therapists, there are several steps that can be taken to improve upon these areas. Working on ankle flexibility goes beyond improving the squat, same for increased hip mobility. We don’t have to squat to involved our ankles and hip, what about a push press or push jerk? Working to improve these 4 areas not only improves our performance in the CrossFit gym but, as we improve our functionality, we improve our over all quality of life outside of the gym. Click here for full article with ideas, tips, suggestions for getting yo-self fixed.
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