Squats and Hip Dysfunction: 2 Common Problems and How to Fix Them - Page 2
Fixing The Problem
Often when diagnosing a movement disorder you are dealing with a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg dilemma. Was it anterior tightness that caused posterior weakness or vice versa? As with most things, it’s probably a bit of both. What degree of each, though, is unique to each individual. It’s possible that you started squatting and due to your forty-hour-a-week office posture you already had profound issues with all of the aforementioned problems. It’s just as possible, though, that initially when you started squatting your mechanics were pretty good but you increased the weights too quickly and this got you in the habit of using negative compensations. Regardless, the most important thing is identifying the existence of the improper movement patterns and addressing them.
Hip Flexion and Hip Mobility Fixes
Quadruped Rocking With Active Shoulder Flexion:
- Get on all fours.
- Push with your arms and drive your hips backwards until yoru hips are sitting on your heels (or as close as you can get, anyway).
- Make sure the motion is coming from your shoulders rather than your hips.
This drill is basically a physiological trick to get your body to move into a position of deep flexion without activating your flexors. If you get on all fours and simply start shifting backwards, then its pretty likely you’re going to engage your flexors to do so. By focusing on pushing with your shoulders, you’re using different muscles to produce the movement and that will allow you to achieve the position without activating your flexors. This will also teach your body that your hip flexors don’t need to be firing as hard as possible in order to achieve this position at the hip.
Same thing as the Thomas test described above, but this time rather than simply observing the position of the thigh, have your buddy gently press your thigh downwards until you feel a stretch through your quad and the front of your hip. Hold this stretch for thirty seconds to a minute, and do this two or three times.
I’m not crazy about a lot of other hip flexor stretches because most of them involve you being upright. As long as you’re upright and having trouble balancing, then your hip flexors are probably going to fire. In other words, if you already have this dysfunction then your flexors are already prone to over-activation. Stretching them in an upright position will turn them on to a degree, but what you’re attempting to accomplish is getting them to shut off. See the problem?
I think the most profound stretch or mobilization for overall hip flexibility is the Paleolithic chair. Get down as low as you can while keeping your heels on the ground and hang out there. If you have to grab onto something to maintain balance at first, that’s fine - just focus on getting low and keeping your heels on the floor. Try to do this for three to five minutes at a time initially. Ideally, you will build up to a total of about ten minutes a day.
Posterior Strength and Gluteal Activation Drills
The best way to get your glutes firing during a squat is to do some basic warm-up drills that will reinforce firing your glutes. One of my favorite progressions is as follows:
- Glute Bridge - 10x (both legs)
- Single Leg Glute Bridge - 10x each leg
- Fire Hydrants - 10x each leg
- Quadruped bent-knee hip extension - 10x each leg
You can perform all of these fixes as a five to ten minute mobility and warm-up session before you squat, which should significantly improve your squat positioning. But really, the simplest fix for weak eccentric glute control is also one of the most straightforward: lighten your weights and focus on the eccentric portion of the squat with specific attention to keeping your torso upright. Mindfulness of your movements and strict adherence to proper patterns is the best medicine for your ailments.
Learn even more from these related articles:
- Squat Therapy: 4 Drills That Will Improve Your Squat
- Video: Breathing and Abdominal Bracing for Strength
- Video: Glute Activation Warm Up for Squats and Deadlifts
- What's New Today on Breaking Muscle
This is a very general list of the most common issues I see concerning hip dysfunction and squats. If there are any more specific issues you guys would like to see addressed let me know and I’ll see what I can do. Good luck. Now get out there and squat something heavy.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.