FITNESS TIP

THINK YOU KNOW SQUAT?

Lilli Inman, Certified Personal Trainer

A squat is an essential action we perform several times a day. We get in and out of a chair; we sit down and stand up from the toilet. Have you ever stopped to consider what’s involved in that squat you’re doing?

You have probably done squats at the gym, but are you doing them correctly? Do you experience hip, knee, or ankle pain when squatting? Do you lose your balance? Do you “get stuck” midway, either going up or going down? In many cases, having weak gluteal muscles is the culprit. The combination of these muscles (gluteus minimus, gluteus medius, and gluteus maximus) function as stabilizers for our pelvic and hip areas. Practicing a simple squat technique can help strengthen your gluteal muscles as well as your legs.

A good way to tell if your squat is in alignment is to watch yourself in a mirror. Facing a mirror, stand with feet hip width apart in front of a chair as if you were going to sit in it. Your hips, knees, ankles, and toes should be in a straight line. With feet flat, observe yourself as you hinge at the hips, bend your knees, and slowly lower yourself into the chair. What did you see? Did you shift your weight onto one hip before lowering? Did one or both knees “buckle” toward each other? Did you have to lift your heels to sit? What happens when you get up out of the chair? Do you have to rock back and forth several times to gain momentum to stand up? Are you shifting your weight to avoid knee or hip pain? These can be signs of possible gluteal weakness.

Let’s break down the essential points of a squat:

  • Hinge at the hips. Press your butt back. Keep your spine long and shins vertical. From there, bend your knees and use your legs to lower your body.
  • Don’t drop your chest forward. Try to keep your chest lifted as you would sitting into a chair.
  • Keep your feet flat. Your weight should be evenly distributed on your feet. If your heels lift during your squat, your calves and/or ankles may be tight.
  • Press into your feet and legs coming up. This will activate the gluteal muscles as you stand back up.

Please feel free to ask any of our trainers about doing a squat safely and properly.