The squat is one of the foundational movements of athleticism and also healthy living. It is for this reason why we must make sure that we have the requisite mobility AND correct technique. Squat poorly and life starts to suck.
Eric was having some trouble maintaining a firm lumbar spine while squatting; some butt wink (excessive posterior tilt of the pelvis) was occurring causing his lower back to round in the bottom of his squat.
Was it an issue of mobility or stability/activation for Eric?
After performing a supine single straight leg raise, Eric appeared to not have too much range of motion in his hamstrings. However, upon further investigation, his pelvis simply had some excessive anterior tilt. We brought his hips to neutral and sure enough, Eric raised his right and left leg, respectively, to near 90 degrees. Tight hamstrings weren’t the cause.
We then assessed the structure of his hip. By testing passive range of motion in the hip while in a supine position, Eric had much more range of motion once the knee was brought up and out. As a result, we took Eric’s squat stance a bit wider. We then compared the internal and external rotation of both hips and found that he had WAY more internal rotation than external rotation. With this we cued Eric to point his toes more forward.
Eric felt stronger with this new position, but still was struggling to find a neutral hip start position.
Enter the quadraped position.
This position is a great teaching tool. It allows the brain to learn movement patterns without fearing danger; being closer to the ground means less chance of falling means the body is less likely to remain tense. This allows the body to relax and move through ranges of motion not as easily when standing.
Once on the ground, Eric struggled initially with the neutral pelvis while shifting further back into the deep quadraped position, but was able to correct himself much easier as we practiced the pattern. After a couple of “descents”, Eric was quadraped squatting like a champ!
In closing, more foam rolling, distraction bands, or other mobility work is not always the right tool to use when trying to improve restricted movement patterns. Sometimes all you need are some small adjustments in technique and improved body awareness!