If you squat, chances are you want a great body and explosive power! Am I right?
If that’s the case, then you’re on the right site. I do want to let you in on the parts of lifting that you never really hear about or see.
You walk down the street, you go to a gym or you meet a professional or amateur athlete and you think, WOW…that person looks great!
And they do!
But what most of us don’t know is the true shape of their body. Yes, on the exterior it looks great, but almost EVERY SINGLE PERSON I train, consult or work with has something wrong with their body. And for many, it makes living pretty crappy!
How To Squat And Not Get Injured: Lesson #!
The best way to squat and not get injured is to learn how to squat from a professional. Just like Olympic lifting takes a about a year to set the foundation and be fairly proficient, learning the squat is no different.
I thought about the order in which you would teach someone to squat properly and before I would get them lifting, I would go over a few basics of squats.
And the first thing I would address would be the wink (AKA hip tuck). The wink should not occur when performing squats and if it does, the low back is paying for it with each and every rep.
So you don’t want to go to the point where the wink occurs. You want to squat just above that and progress lower as you become more flexible.
So how do you get rid of the wink?
It’s not easy to get rid of the wink/hip tuck because one of 3 things may be the cause.
1) Tight Hamstrings
2) Hip pocket depth
3) Head of femur placement
Tow of those 3 things (#2 and #3) are out of our hands, and in the hands of a good coach, you’d go as far down as your genetics would allow, or you could widen your stance and affect different muscle groups.
The problem with that is that the squat is not as natural and if other body parts don’t reach as far as your new stance, they too an become exposed and over time, injured.
No animal widens their stance to reach up on their hind legs, but it is a squat variation that can be used for sure.
But let’s for a second, look and see what happens when the hamstrings are tight. I have attached a decent image of the muscles that are a huge player in the squat and in daily life.
It’s called the Quadratus Lumborum, or QL for short. This is muscles, having been abused, has crippled many a person, both in the iron game and in daily life.
I attached the picture to help you to see how the hamstring play such a role in back pain. And how loosening them may help alleviate back pain.
Say the skeleton in the image above is hanging from a pull-up bar, and as he does so, you jump up and grab on to his pelvis and thighs in a bear hug fashion as he continues to hang.
The muscles above the pelvis will be working hard to not allow the pelvis to get pulled down. If it has tremendous strength it will do its job well.
However, what if that tension was applied 24 hours per day? Would the QL hold up?
That is what a tight hamstring does. It puts continuous pressure on the QL muscles to keep the pelvis where it is, and in doing so, it will get overused, over worked and often injured.
The wink/hip tuck is you rotating your hips slightly and then going in to a squat. At some point, if the hamstrings are the problem and they are too tight, the hips will “wink” or “tuck”. This motion keeps the hamstrings shortened as your body brilliantly protects those muscles from betting injured and overstretched.
However, as Newton’s first law states. “For every action, there is a n equal and opposite reaction”.
And in this case, the reaction is the back absorbs the injury instead.
What To Do?
Use a box to find out how low you can squat before the wink occurs. Once you find that position you can do one of three things as you squat.
1) Squat to the box as you use it as a marker, going lower every few weeks (but getting lighter weight as you do that)
2) Lower the box a bit more and get near it but don’t actually touch it. Touching it would cause a wink
3) Do a regular squat and feel for when the when the ink is and don’t go that far. This one is very hard to gauge progress as you open up the hamstrings, but it can still be effective.
As you progress in the squat you should continually do hamstring stretches as well to improve range and safely get more flexible.
And don’t forget, a wink is good, if it’s a member of the opposite sex doing it, but it’s not good at all when squatting and even worse if you have weight on your back!