Common Exercise Technique Mistakes: The Squat
The squat is a great exercise for a range of different reasons. When done correctly it helps to improve function in elderly people e.g. getting up from a chair, as well as being a great power exercise for athletes wanting to train their quads and glutes.
There are many technique mistakes people make when performing a squat, below we have outlined the three most common and how to correct them.
1. 2Poor Knee Control
Knees coming in together or going too far forward is a very common mistake when people perform squats. This increases pressure on your knees and can result in injury if done repetitively. To avoid this, ensure your feet are facing forward hip width apart and your knees should then track inline with your toes. As you squat down and return up your knees should remain in line with your toes without coming forward past your toes. Keeping your weight through your heels and sticking your bottom back will help to avoid this.
. Poor Lower Back Control
Bending forward too much through your lower back can result in back pain when squatting and can lead to significant long term injury such as lumbar spine disc bulge. When squatting you need to ensure you keep the natural curve or lordosis in your lumbar spine. To do this, ensure you stick your bottom back and keep your chest facing up and forwards.
3. Holding Breath
When performing a heavy multi joint exercise such as a squat it is very easy to want to hold your breath to help brace your lower back. This is called the valsalva manoeuvre and although it is employed by high level weight lifters, it can be detrimental to your health. Holding your breath during heavy resistance training can significantly increase your blood pressure to dangerous levels. It also promotes the use of incorrect muscles to brace the lower back during a heavy lift. To ensure you use the correct abdominal muscles during a squat this you should gently draw your belly button in to brace your lower back and continue to breathe throughout the movement.
Written by Jack Hickey, Exercise Physiologist
For more information check out our Workout Wednesday video on The Perfect Squat:
Sacro Illiac Joint Pain SIJ Explained
What is the Sacro Illiac Joint Pain (SIJ)?
The SIJ is the joint between the lower segments of the spine, the sacrum, and the illium bone of the pelvis. The SIJ is given structural support by strong ligaments and muscular support gives the SIJ some degree of dynamic stability. Movements of the SIJ are subtle and can be confusing; however the main movements which occur at this joint are nutation and counter-nutation. Basically speaking, nutation refers to the top end of the sacrum tilting forward relative to the Illium and counter-nutation refers to the top end of the sacrum tilting backwards relative to the Illium.
What is Pelvic Instability?
Pelvic instability refers to uncontrolled counter-nutation of the SIJ. This puts direct stretch on the long dorsal ligament which is highly innervated with nerves and can cause pain often felt in the buttock and down the leg. The combined actions of several muscles are critical to achieve stability of the SIJ, including trasverse abdominus, multifidus, pelvic floor muscles, the gluteal muscles, latissimus dorsi, obliques and erector spinae. Weakness or poor neuromuscular recruitment of these muscles can cause sustained counter-nutation of the sacrum, increasing the risk of SIJ irritation.
Treating Pelvic Instability and SIJ Pain
Assessment to determine which muscles are deficient in stabilising the pelvis is critical for the treatment of SIJ pain. For acute SIJ pain, any exercise or movement which brings the sacrum into nutation should reduce pain. This includes SIJ mobilisations, stretching the hamstrings to inhibit them from pulling the sacrum into counter-nutation, taping across the SIJ or into nutation as well as traction in line of the SIJ to reduce stretch on the long dorsal ligament. Initially to achieve further pelvic stability, exercises to improve the strength and control of transverse abdominus are key. To then achieve dynamic control of the pelvis, strengthening the other muscles which stabilise the pelvis (Most commonly gluteus maximus and latissimus dorsi) is required.
Written By Jack Hickey
Exercise Physiologist at MD Health Pilates
MD Health Clinical Pilates – Workout Wednesday – The Perfect Squat Part 2
Following on from last week’s Workout Wednesday video, this week we show you how to perform an intermediate and advanced version of the squat exercise with perfect technique
Again, these are more advanced exercises for knee pain, especially PFJ (Patello-femoral joint pain) and are also a great exercise for pelvic instability and ankle stability issues. As always, control of the knee, hip and ankle is important. When you start your squat exercise, make sure that the inside muscle of the thigh, the VMO muscle ( vastus medialis oblique) is contracted, to keep control of the knee cap as you perform the squat.
Squats are a great, general exercise for lower leg, as it requires control of all the major joints of the legs, the pelvic, hips, knees and ankle, as it involves eccentric control of all these joints. Eccentric exercises require the most control and load the tendons up the most, which is the best for motor learning and building strength.
More specifically, squats are primarily an exercise for the Patello-femoral joint. The patello-femoral-joint is the joint between the patella (knee cap) and the intercondylar notch of the femur, where the patella tracks during flexion and extension of the knee. This tracking of the patella is largely influenced by the balance between lateral and medial forces acting upon it. The majority of the lateral force acting on the PFJ come from the vastus lateralis (VL) component of the quadriceps muscle and the ilio-tibial-band (ITB). The medial forces acting upon the PFJ are controlled by the vastus medialis (VM) muscle, particularly the oblique portion of this muscle referred to as VMO.
Extract taken from our blog article ‘Patello-Femoral-Joint (PFJ) Knee Pain Explained’ by Jack Hickey