If you were taken back by the title of this blog post, please read on as this may apply to making you a better mover. You may or may not have heard of squat therapy before and I am here to introduce you to this great diagnostic/corrective tool that we use to help our athletes become better at squats.
So what is Squat Therapy you ask….
You will want to line up about 6-12 inches away from the wall with your feet shoulder width apart with a 10′ box or a medicine ball behind you. For a beginner athlete you may need to start a little further away from the wall; the reason we want to do this is to prevent the chest coming forward. If you don’t have a wall available you can also use a squat rack and just ensure that you are facing the wall or the rack. Raise your hands up high in the air and keep them there throughout the movement. Slowly descend down to the bottom of the squat and come back up while keeping your hands up in the air.
Keeping your hands up allows for your spine to be neutral, which is ideal for any and all squats – we never want you rounding your back during this movement. The ball or box underneath you is to help a client with depth awareness. For someone that may not be going low enough this will help them understand where full range of motion is at the bottom of the squat.
As an athlete becomes more proficient they can start moving their feet closer to the wall, keeping the hands up in the air throughout the movement and continuing to do these slow and controlled and emphasizing proper mechanics for the squat – keeping a neutral spine, weight evenly distributed throughout the foot (sometimes cueing the athlete to stay on the heels helps avoid coming forward on the toes), and pushing the knees out so they track their toes which will open up the hips so that it becomes easier to go below parallel. If you aren’t squatting below parallel you are going to put a lot more stress on the knee joint and loading of the quads which takes more of your posterior chain out of it (hamstring, glutes and erectors).
We want to find the sticking point; as we inch closer to the wall you will see this movement become more challenging. We want to go through the full range of motion while keeping good mechanics. Once we find that point we want to practice some good reps here. We want to include this as part of your daily routine – we squat everyday whether we realize it or not; in the simplest of terms a squat is lowering and raising your general center of gravity such as getting off the couch, off the toilet, getting out of the car. You can see why its essential that you do this well!
My suggestion would be to include 20 of these in your warm up and you will see improvement in your squat. If you are a good squatter, you will get better; if you squat poorly, squat therapy is going to help you improve. Everyone can benefit from some squat therapy, so please start making this part of your routine. For reference on how to do this correctly check out the above video of Nichole doing squat therapy. The one point I’d make a small correction is when she comes up out of the bottom we want the athlete to come straight up and not shift their weight forward.