How to Improve your Squat Mobility
Are you looking to improve your squat mobility to build a stronger, pain free and more mobile squat?
A lack of mobility in different joints of the body will cause areas of the body to compensate and can ultimately lead to pain and/or dysfunction.
Why is Mobility Important during a Squat?
First off, it is important to understand what mobility actually means. By definition, mobility is your joint’s ability to move. Some factors that can affect one’s mobility are soft tissue restrictions (tight muscles, ligaments, etc) along with structural imbalances such as bone on bone. An example of poor mobility during a squat is when the person has difficulty maintaining a relatively neutral spine throughout the exercise (rounding of the back, etc).
The squat requires an adequate amount of mobility in the ankles, hips and thoracic spine (middle back). As mentioned above, a lack of mobility in a joint will cause different areas of the body (specifically the joint above and below) to compensate. This can also cause a ripple effect throughout the body and lead to poor squatting mechanics and pain/dysfunction.
Causes of Poor Mobility
- Poor posture (sitting in front of the computer for a long duration)
- Injuries that did not fully heal (an ankle sprain, etc)
- Muscular imbalances from poor selection of exercises (excessive bench pressing)
- Lack of activity and overall movement (sedentary lifestyle)
What Does Poor Squat Mobility Look Like?
- Difficulty hitting an appropriate depth during a squat
- The knees collapsing inwards
- The hips shifting / twisting to one side
- Heels coming off the ground
- Feet excessively rotating outwards coming down into a squat
- The inability to maintain a neutral spine
Why Improve your Squat Mobility?
The squat heavily relies on the ankles, hips and thoracic spine to be mobile.
Improving your mobility in these three joints will allow the other joints sandwiched in between to work like how they should. Incorporating different mobility drills for these joints can dramatically increase your overall squat mobility and lead to less compensation during a squat. I highly recommend performing these exercises before (and even after) your squat workout and throughout the week for maximal results.
Who can Benefit from More Squat Mobility?
Ankle Mobility Exercises
A lack of ankle mobility can cause movement pattern issues such as the heels coming off the ground along with the knees excessively caving inwards.
The Pole Squat is one of my favourite exercises when it comes to improving one’s squat mobility.
Start in your preferred squat stance. Grab onto a stationary object such as a squat rack or door frame and squat down as deep as possible while keeping your heels in contact with the ground at all times. Pull your chest up towards the ceiling. To increase the difficulty of the exercise, slowly ease your grip off the squat rack. Aim for 30 – 60 seconds for 2 – 3 sets.
Hip Mobility Exercises
Not having an adequate amount of hip mobility will force the torso to fall forwards during a squat and can also create a “pinching” sensation in front of the hips.
The Hip Flexor Lunge Stretch helps stretch the musculature on the front of the hip and is great for anybody that finds themselves sitting for long periods of time.
Start in a half kneeling position with both legs bent to roughly 90 degrees. Lift the same side arm as the rear leg up towards the ceiling. Tilt your pelvis backwards (think about pulling your belly button into the spine) until a stretch is felt in front of the hips. Focus on deep, diaphragmatic breathing and hold this stretch anywhere between 30 – 60 seconds for 2 – 3 sets on each side.
Thoracic Mobility Exercises
Having a lack of thoracic mobility during a squat can cause the lifter to excessively round their shoulders forward and/or the ability to maintain a neutral spine.
The Squat & Thoracic Extension is an exercise to help mobilize the thoracic spine in a squat position.
Place a small ball or chair in front of a squat rack or door frame (the shorter it is the more difficult). Sit onto the ball and allow your knees to drive forward and over your toes. Place your hands onto the squat rack and crawl your fingers up towards the ceiling. Lift your chest up towards the ceiling and allowing your upper body to open up. Aim for 30 – 60 seconds for 2 – 3 sets and stretch to the point of tension, not pain.
Putting Everything Together...
If you’re looking to improve your squat mobility, keeping the ankles, hips and thoracic spine should be one of your main priorities.
Having adequate mobility in these joints will allow the other joints to do their job correctly. It is also equally important to start stabilizing the joints such as the knees, lower back and shoulders to help cement the results and unlocking your full potential during the squat. For the best results, be sure to mobilize these joints throughout the week as movement is medicine!
Our Unlock Your Squat Mobility Program is designed to help improve your overall squat mobility along with strengthening different areas of the body for injury prevention and a stronger squat!