If squats are part of your regular strength training routine, welcome to the club! Squats are a popular exercise for many reasons: |
Although it looks like a simple movement, there is a fair amount of technique involved with performing the squat correctly. Proper form is crucial to reduce your risk of injury, so it's always a good idea to watch yourself in a mirror to check your form or consult a fitness professional to be sure that your
If your squat doesn't look exactly as it should, you could be experiencing one of the common issues many people face when performing a traditional squat. Consulting a fitness professional is always your best bet, since sometimes there are bigger mechanical or muscular imbalances that need to be addressed before form correction is possible. However, as a first step, there are exercises you can do to start correcting those issues on your own.
Issue #1: My knees buckle in.
Referred to as "valgus collapse" or "knee valgus", this occurs when the femur rotates internally during the squat, causing the knees to rotate inward. This can be caused by a wide variety of issues, but the most common causes are related to mobility, strength imbalances or coordination.
The potential problem? Lack of ankle and hip mobility. It's easy to assume the issue is with the joint doing in the majority of the work, which, in this case, would be the knee. However, it's actually issues with the joints above or below the knee that will cause problems that present themselves
The fix: If tightness is the reason for your knee valgus, stretches for the lower leg (gastrocnemius and
The potential problem? Abductor/adductor strength imbalance.
The fix: Exercises to strengthen the abductors will help prevent knee valgus if a strength imbalance is causing the issue. A mini band is a popular piece of equipment to help correct this problem because it forces the knees outward during the exercises. Try adding the mini band to bodyweight squats, hip abductions and
The potential problem? Lack of coordination. Knee valgus isn't always due to issues with mobility or strength; exercise deviations could be due to improper form that has never been corrected. A personal trainer will be able to quickly determine if coordination is the issue. If your form can easily be corrected by simple cues to perform the exercise properly, improper form is likely to blame.
The fix: If you're using weights to increase the intensity of the squat, try decreasing the amount. The heavier the weight, the more control and coordination is needed to perform the exercise properly and with control. Often the knees will turn in to compensate for the fact that the weight is too heavy. When in doubt, check your form in the mirror or ask a trainer to evaluate your squat.
Issue #2: My heels come off the floor.
The problem? Tight calves. Your calves become accustomed to being in a shortened position if you sit at a desk all day or frequently wear heels. Tight calves limit ankle mobility, so when you squat and the calf is stretched, the heels will naturally come off of the floor to compensate. To test if your calves are tight, sit in a chair with one leg out in front, flex the foot by pulling the toes back toward the body. If you feel significant tightness in the back of your lower leg, it could be the reason your heels are coming off the floor during the squat.