Thinking About The Squat

The main object of this post is get people to understand the function of the glutes, their role in the squat and how they affect the knee joint during the squat. I’ll also try and cover some mobility issues linked to stance and foot position too! I’m a little unsure of where to start with this post, but here goes!

I’ve discussed, in previous posts, there are  3 planes of movement – saggital, frontal and transverse. The hip joint will move in all three of these planes, to some degree, during walking, running, jumping, squatting etc. When the glutes contract concentrically (shorten), they can extend, abduct and externally rotate the hip joint. Therefore, to eccentrically load the glutes we need hip flexion, adduction and internal rotation to some degree, right?

OK – on the descent (of the squat), it’s easy to see the ‘flexion’ at the hip; the knee and chest move towards each other. What do you do  with your knee when you descend? Do you push them out – try to maintain an externally rotated position? Pushing the knees out, into abduction, and trying to maintain external rotation is the concentric action of the glutes – shouldn’t that be happening on the way out of the squat? Interesting, no? But wait, won’t internal rotation and adduction cause valgus at the knee? Yup, it sure will – however, not all valgus is bad! :-O

The valgus knee occurs in people with a hip hypermobility – long and floppy glutes trying to load and explode to get out of the bottom of the squat. Don’t get me wrong, valgus knees in a loaded squat needs to be addressed but the body is doing its best to create some explode. If you get the load element the knee will drive straight back out – which is caused by the concentric contraction of the glutes. This internal to external rotation is important. Why? The transverse plane is the most powerful plane in the body. Just think of propulsion sports – golf, baseball, throwing athletic events etc. To throw/hit  the object furthest the movement is predominently through the transverse plane. Why is this important to my squat? Look at these two videos – watch the action of the knee and tell me what you see?

Were they driving the knees out on the descent? What happened to the knee joint as they begin to drive out of the bottom? Does the knee STAY in that position?

Let me touch on one other point briefly – foot position.

If your feet are too wide, the valgus (if there is any) will look worse, this is because of the distance of your feet from your hips. You’ll need more valgus because the additional abduction actually shortens the glutes that you want to stretch and load! ‘But I can’t squat with my feet any closer’ – I hear you cry. I’d ask the question ‘why?’. If you point your toes out quiet a bit then it could be that you have poor ankle or hip mobility mobility, or tight hip external rotators…or some combination. I’ll save some tips on this for another post as I think there is quiet a bit to think about here!

Thoughts and comments, please!