Updated: May 26, 2019
How low you can go is determined not by someone screaming at you to go lower its about mechanics. Here is a guide how to maximise your mechanics and get your squat groove on.
All squatters are different, therefore, all squatters will squat differently. So how low should you go and what are the determing factors ?
Subtle differences in anatomy mean that we all have a "path of least resistance" foe movement. By exploiting this path we can often negate unecessary injury , never is this more true of the squat.
To keep this simple lets look at three areas that determine the depth of your squat.
Hip range of motion and Squat depth.
Stuart McGill, of low back rehab fame, has discussed that there is an anthroplogical variation that affects the depth of a persons squat.
As he describes it the westren european or "celtic hip" is deeper and restricts range of flexion available thus restricting squat depth. The further east you travel through europe and into Asia you tend to find hip sockets becoming shallower and allowing greater range of motion.
Here is a simple test to determine your hip mobility.
Low back Mobility and squat depth.
The ability to maintain a neutral spine while squating allows for a more efficent path of movement, results in effective exercise for the core muscles and minimizes the risk of injury.
By changing the width of the hips and rotation can affect the ability to maintain a neutral spine. For the deeper hip socketed amongst us that may mean a wider hip stance with teh femurs more externally rotated.
To test your best stance position for your low back try this simple test.
Squatting and ankle range of motion.
The most neglected and possibly simplist solution to maximising safe squat depth is ankle mobility. A reduction in ankle mobilitycan potentially increase the stresses ging through the hips and spine by a factor of 10, ( fry et al 2003).
Ideally you want dorsiflexion to be greater than 10cm on the knee to wall test. Here is how to assess your ankle mobility.
Make the exercise fit you not the other way round
The squat is a great exercise for many aspects of joint and body health as well as building lower limb and core strength. The trick as always is make the exercise fit you not the other way round. Unless you are a competitive weightlifter then full range of motion is not essential to get the benefits of squatting. There are plenty of variations to try as well as finding your groove.
If you want to find your squat groove give us a call or book in with Andy