http-equiv='refresh'/> Global Therapies: Thoughts on movement for postural information. Squatting.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Thoughts on movement for postural information. Squatting.

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Quite a mouthful of a title, however, I hope that this will become slightly more clear as I ramble on.
We were over at Strength and Performance gym yesterday and I was beginning a new programme which is going to be going on for the next 4 weeks. One of the exercises here is the Front Squat, not a massively technical lift like some of the Olympic lifts, but technical enough to do you a fair amount of damage should you do it wrong.

If you ARE doing it wrong, and persist in doing it wrong, upping the weight because you think you can, eventually something is going to give. If your biomechanics are not very good, its probably not going to be your legs (the main bit that is doing the lifting) that are going to blow. Most likely its going to be your back.
Its probably quite a good idea to get the action right before you start piling on the weight and potentially doing yourself a mischief.
One of the reasons why I'm looking to squat with Sean and Z from S&P is because they have a perspective I do not. They are Strength coaches and can see a million different things about how I am moving and how I should be moving, and what I need to do to move correctly. Standing still, in a static position I don't seem to be particularly wonky, nor do I seem to be particularly prone to odd movements. If I Goblet Squat with a dumbbell, even with the movement, I appear to be quite well balanced and move quite well.

We started with a bare olympic bar, 20kg and some interesting things started happening. As you can see from the standing still with the bar relaxed across me, its dipping down to the left without me doing anything.
At the top there is a slight imbalance, left being lower than the right

During the actual squat, my hip flexors don't appear to be moving properly. The right side seems to move fine, and drops down into position, but the left side is doing something odd. The way I am moving appears to suggest that the Glutes or the Hamstrings are too tight and are preventing me from getting down into a decent squat properly. Because of this inhibition, I sink lower on the right, the left leg is slightly abducted, and my entire trunk sways to the right, but the shoulders dip to the left.
Double trouble.
during the squat, there is a continuing left/right balance problem
At the bottom of the squat, my body is swaying off to the right, bar leaning to the left, right ischial tuberosity lower than the left, left leg abducting out to the left.

Looking at the photos I decided to do a bit of stretching. Looking at my glute stretch, on the right I can get my knee to my chest easily, not an issue in the slightest. The left is a different story, but in an interesting way. I can't get my knee to the chest, but I don't feel like there is a stretch coming on in my glutes or in the hamstrings. It feels like my hip flexor area is "blocked", as if there is something in the joint that is not allowing full flexion of the hip. It's almost like the tissues are approximating because there is not enough space in the joint capsule. Because of this, the squat doesn't sit down as far as it should, and if I decided to ignore this, and carry on sticking weight on the bar, at some point, the compromised back would decide not to work and I'd end up in a pretty rubbish situation.

We have decided that for the moment, its worth looking at improving the flexibility of the hip flexors, which includes working on the lift pattern - movement will help improve hip flexibility, but not to increase the weight until I am closer to a more optimal squat pattern. I know a number of people that would have said - ah, we are close enough, I want to get my lift up, lets rack on the heavies... Not a good plan. I'm in this life for the long shot and want to keep my body performing optimally for as long as I can.
Look long term, think big picture.

(though sometimes, that has to be replaced with the "go big or go home" mantra...!)

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