Coaches’ Corner

How Hip Restrictions Prevent a Perfect Squat:

Squats are a great exercise, but it’s no secret that in order to have a proper squat, you have to have great hip mobility. The hips have many different functions. They must be both stable and mobile at different times and in different planes, along with being able to abduct, adduct, extend, and rotate on demand. But when we discuss hip mobility in the context of the squat, what we’re really talking about is hip flexion.

If you want to have any chance of squatting below parallel with a weight on your back, then you’re going to need at least 110-125 degrees of hip flexion. Achieving full squat depth with anything less than full range of motion at the hip requires your body to make a number of biomechanical compromises.

Following the joint-by-joint approach, when the hip lacks flexion, the joints above it (the lumbar spine), and below it (the knee) will overcompensate to make up the difference.

Our bodies naturally compensate during the squatting motion by removing stability from one joint to provide mobility for another. But while this type of compensated movement may allow you to achieve certain positions, it puts excessive strain on the back and knees.

When your body isn’t ready for these positions, the repetitive stress eventually leads to structural overload, inflammation, and a long-term relationship with your orthopedic surgeon. Show me a person who says that squats hurt their knees or tweak their back and I’ll show you a person with a hip mobility problem.

Typically when we see lifters struggling to reach full depth during a squat we immediately think of the posterior chain – tight hamstrings, glutes, lower back, etc. Yet limitations in hip flexion can come from the front or the back, depending on what’s being restricted. Hip restrictions come in three main flavors – muscular, capsular, and structural (bone) – each requiring different solutions. Chat with Mike Davis, CEO of Elite Fitness Plus, or one of the Elite Fitness Plus coaches if you would like more information on this and/or want to work on your squat limitations.


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