Sunday, April 1, 2012

Squatting - Notes From My Experiences

In case it's helpful to anyone, I thought I'd follow up my post Squatting and Why It's an Important Movement for Runners with some notes from my experiences with trying to improve my squatting technique.

I first discovered that my squatting technique was terrible when I started doing CrossFit.  I had been running for more than 35 years, and until I started doing CrossFit, I had no idea how badly my hip and ankle mobility had been compromised by doing all that running and not enough "other things" to balance out my training. Unfortunately when I was involved in CrossFit, they really didn't offer any training solutions for people with poor mobility. That has changed now, but I was pretty much on my own on how to go about fixing my mobility problems. I have to stress that my methods are almost certainly not the best, but I had to make do with what knew at the time.

The Process I have followed to date

My first step was to try to get comfortable sitting in the squat. I set a goal of being able to sit in a squat for 10 minutes. I did this by simply sitting in a squat and timing myself. Each time I tried to stay in the squat a little longer before my hips became extremely uncomfortable and I felt the need stand up.
  • I would focus on relaxing and letting gravity pull me down. I tried not to resist when my hips became uncomfortable, I would continue to focus on remaining relaxed. 
  • After about a month, I was able sit in a squat for 10 minutes. It was not a pretty squat, by my hips really began to loosen up. 
One day while doing Goblet Squats with kettlebells, I discovered that by holding a kettlebell while squatting, my squatting technique suddenly became much better.  I was able maintain good posture, good foot position and a fairly deep squat. I began to experiment with this, and realized I was using the kettlebell as a counterbalance to compensate for poor ankle mobility.
  • I started doing 10 minutes of Goblet Squats every day, slowly decreasing the weight I was using for counterbalance. 
  • I also started doing calf stretches using a Meta-Dyne calf stretching device
  • At this point, my squat without the kettlebell was getting much better, but it still needed work.
Eventually I could not reduce the weight I was holding without my compromising my squatting technique. So my next step was to see my chiropractor to see what Graston Technique could do to help loosen up my calves. Having Graston Technique done on my calves helped a lot. My squat improved even more. It's still not perfect, but I continue to work on it with stretching and doing Goblet Squats.

Next Steps

So this is where I am now. I've greatly improved my hip mobility. My ankle mobility is better, but needs work. So for my next steps, I intend apply some of the training methods from the videos I posted in Squatting and Why It's an Important Movement for Runners. Particularly the video Tight ankles= bad squatting.

Here is a nice video on Goblet Squats

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