Despite the forecast, summer is right around the corner. That means many New Yorkers are starting exercise routines, determined to be in shape before it’s time to hit the beach. For many people, that means lots of squats.
At Integrative Spine & Sports Medicine Practice in New York City, we see a lot of people for leg injuries, muscle pulls and tears, etc.
While enthusiasm and effort are important, nothing is more essential to overall fitness than proper form. By focusing on technique, you can prevent injury and be confident that you are burning calories safely, while building strength and adding flexibility. And you’ll look good, too!
No matter your choice of exercise, you’re bound to benefit from mastering that most basic and important building block of fitness: The Perfect Squat.
The perfect squat is much more than a power lifting technique for iron pumping behemoths. It’s the basis of most human activities. It’s how we lower our center of gravity. Every time you sit down or stand up – whether at work, at home or during exercise, you’re doing a variation on the standard squat. Most of us unconsciously practice squatting hundreds of times throughout the day. Chances are, we’re not focused on technique.
The problem is that if you practice improper form, you’re much more likely to fall back on bad habits during the stress of exercise, while jumping, lifting or landing. This leads to many preventable injuries to the ankles, knees, hips and most commonly, the back.
Build your own “Perfect Squat” by following the steps outlined below. If you find yourself limited by strength or mobility, don’t force it. Simply reduce the depth of the squat and continue to focus on form. The goal is to perform a full, butt-to-ankle squat.
1.) Begin by standing in a neutral, upright position, with your feet just outside shoulder width. Keeping the feet straight, squeeze your glutes tightly and engage your abs. Press your feet firmly into the floor, keeping your chest upright and your shoulders back. This is the starting position for a perfect squat.
2.) Keeping your back flat and your shins as vertical as possible, lower your bottom towards the ground. Remember to engage your hamstrings and hips, being careful not to overextend your spine or lose positioning of the knees.
3.) Lower yourself into the bottom of the squat, keeping your back flat, your abs tight and your shins vertical. Press the feet into the ground and drive the knees out to maximize tension in the hips and hamstrings throughout the movement.
4.) Rise back up exactly the same way you came down – with abs engaged, back flat and shins vertical. Keep your shoulders back and your head and neck neutral. Exhale slowly as you drive through the hamstrings, pressing the feet firmly into the floor.
5.) Slowly stand up, returning to the starting position by squeezing the glutes. Pause at the top, making sure your form is correct before repeating the sequence.
And those are the 5 steps you can take to get a perfect squat. If you have any questions, just let us know!