There is a handful of teaching points used to perform a “squat” safely and effectively. Here is a quick self-assessment you can use to instantly improve your squat technique to achieve greater depth, better spinal alignment and more tension on the working muscles for best results in strength training and joint health.
As you can see in this picture, I am identifying the knee position in correlation to your toes and how this can impact your technique during the squat.
The blue line represents the toes in comparison to the knee joint and the gold line represents the angle of the spine at the hip joint.
Diagram A – If you don’t allow your knee’s to travel over your toes when performing the squat, it becomes increasingly difficult to attain an upright posture at hips therefore increasing the loading on the vertebrae of the lower back which immediately increases the risk of a spinal injury. As the knee joint is only partially hinged, you are more vulnerable to knee injuries due to the medial/lateral knee ligaments being at their weakest point in the range of movement.
For every 10 degrees that you lean forward at the hips during the squat this creates an additional 50% loading on the lumbar vertebrae. For example: 60kg Back Squat with a 10 degree lean forward at the hips is the equivalent to 90kg on the lumbar vertebrae.
Diagram B – It is important to ensure the knee joint passes over the toe’s when performing the squat for the following reasons. This will reduce the risk of knee injuries during the squat, and apply effective tension in the working muscles and connective tissues e.g Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, and ligaments/tendons in and around the knee joint. As a result of this, you will improve joint health, increase tensile strength of connective tissues, and develop muscular strength. Another reason why everybody should squat regardless of age.
The best method I have used to explain this to clients or gym-goers that ask me for advice is, If your knee shouldn’t travel over your toes then how do you climb the stairs? (the funny person will say I take the lift or escalator not the stairs so I don’t need to but that is the same reason why this individual is approaching me for weight loss tips.)
As you can see in the short clip below, Your knees will briefly pass over your toes in order for you climb up to the next step. We have been doing this for thousands of years as humans therefore we are designed to do this as well as many other movement patterns.
Thanks for reading my blog. Drop your ego and squat with your brain for a safe and more effective workout!