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MOBILITY FAQ SERIES: HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY LOW BAR SQUAT DEPTH?

Hi- I’m a low bar squatter and I am having trouble getting to full depth. What can I do to help my legs in a squat?

The bottom position of this squat doesn't require the knees to move forward too much. The low-bar squat inherently places more load on the posterior chain (hamstrings and glutes) when compared to the front squat and high-bar squat.

You don’t need to have amazing ankle mobility to perfect the low-bar squat. This is why powerlifters will often wear a flat sole shoe like Converse or Vans.

So make sure that you are working the stability and strength of the hamstrings and glutes. As well as working hip mobility.


Four steps to better hip mobility are below-

  1. Mobilising, especially band distraction

  2. Foam Roll

  3. Stretch

  4. Posterior Chain Activation (as we have already briefly discussed)

MOBILISATION

Band distraction joint mobilisations assist with the way our bones glide over each other. A joint glide is sustained while the athlete actively moves into the specific range-of-motion we are trying to improve. During the squat, the end of our femur glides backward in our hip joint as our thigh moves towards our chest. The goal is to alleviate any pain or pinching feelings deep in the joint. If you don’t have access to one I’d recommend Amazon for a variety of different bands.


FOAM ROLLING

I usually recommend athletes spend at least 2 minutes on each area they are trying to address. I believe every athlete should foam roll on a daily basis!


For the squat, we need to address our hip flexors, quads, and lateral hips. Start by moving slowly up and down the lower leg muscles until you find a tender area. Pause on this area and push down with your bodyweight for 10 seconds before moving again. Do not foam roll quickly. I understand it hurts but you need to roll slowly and use your breath to relax and allow the muscles to relax. If you do it quickly it won’t have the full effect you can get.

I like to use the analogy of kneading bread with a rolling pin. You want to use the foam roller to knead your tissues, rolling back and forth in small rhythmical movements. Lying on the roller and moving quickly in large passes will have little effect on your stiff tissues. You can also add in active knee movement during this pause to increase the effectiveness- for example on your front rolling out your quad and bending at the knee joint whilst rolling up and down.


STRETCHING

Nicknamed 'The World's Greatest Stretch'!


This stretch has 4 parts to it:


First, start by assuming a deep lunge position with your left leg forward. Squeeze your glutes and drive your hips toward the floor. This movement should cause a stretch to be felt in the front of the right hip. Second, drop your left elbow to the ground. Hold for 5 seconds.


Next, use your elbow or hand to drive your left knee out to the side. Make sure to keep your foot firmly planted on the ground. Finally, rotate the entire upper body up and to the left, ending with the left arm in the air. This last movement helps address the mobility of the thoracic (mid-spine) which is also prone to stiffness.


The last stretch I’d recommend is the Couch stretch. Firstly kneeling on the floor with your knee joint pushed right next to your sofa or skirting board. Bringing the opposite leg round into a 90-degree bend then tucking the pelvis and pushing forward whilst trying to remain as actively upright as possible. Your glutes should be touching your back foot. Holding this stretch actively (squeezing the glutes) for 30 seconds each time.


As we are in lockdown I would recommend doing these 3 things daily as we are sitting a lot more which is causing our lower body to become stiffer.


These are just the basics that I would recommend to improve your squat depth and hip mobility in general. Give these a go for 4 weeks and start to notice the difference and Happy Squatting 💪



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