Back Squat: Form focus
Ok let’s get deep into some squat stance, femur length, torso angle chat…please contain your excitement!
There are a few things that everyone can do to help find a better squat position (I will talk about a couple soon) but there is one thing that is going to dictate the mechanics of your squat that no amount of mobility, new shoes or Russian squat programmes is going to change and that’s your femur length! Like it or not its going to be harder for a person with long femurs to keep a nice upright instagram perfect’ squat position, its mechanics! If you have been blessed with short femurs and a longer torso you probably will feel very comfortable in the bottom of a squat and have never heard the cue ‘chest up’ from a coach.
Don’t despair though my long femur’d friends there are a few things we can do to help keep that torso upright (I should say in a back squat some forward bend is expected…the reason we are looking at this is mainly for transfer to Olympic weightlifting movements).
First off ankle dorsiflexion…big word but basically how close you can get your toes to your shin. Everyone will benefit from having good ankle dorsiflexion but especially those with longer femurs. Having enough forward movement of the knee is important to keeping an upright torso and the bar over the foot during a squat or clean. Here is a great website to test and address what might be causing restriction for you.
Secondly hip abduction and stability…the hip is a ball and socket joint meaning it has the greatest range of motion of any joint type. Abduction refers to the movement away from the midline of the body so when we talk about hip abduction with reference to a squat we are looking at the basic end the cue of “knees out”. Abduction of the hip for a good squat position requires the mobility (range of motion) and the stability (strength). If we combine this with our foot position we are trying to find a stance and toe position that maximise our mobility and stability of the hip joint. For those with longer femurs generally a slightly wider stance with more hip abduction is going to lead to a better squat position and upright torso. Here is a good piece looking at hip mobility and stability (I’m a big fan of the 90/90 stretch!)
So to conclude everyone’s squat, regardless of femur length, needs good ankle dorsiflexion and hip abduction ROM and stability BUT if you are genetically hindered by those pesky long femurs it’s going to be even more important for you to address these areas.
CrossFit Central Wellington Senior Coach