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. Poor 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.
2. 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: