Have you ever completed a leg day from Kayla Itsines' Bikini Body Guide workout and experienced pain in your knees or low back ? The workout contains a lot of a body weight squats but also a whole lot of plyometric exercises including jump squats and tuck jumps. In order to do a jump squat, you should make sure you know how to do a regular bodyweight or air squat, otherwise, your knees will be in for a surprise.
Rule of thumb: if can't do a squat, you shouldn't be doing a jump squat yet.
Do You Look Like Any of These?
The Toe Squatter The Zombie-Gorilla Squatter The Caving Knee Squatter
Most Common Squatting Mistakes:
Before we talk about doing a proper squat, we are going to look at 3 most common squatting mistakes that I see in clinic and at the gym. There are many other ways to screw up the squat but I'm not going to list them all here!
1. The Toe Squatter- Knees Over Toes
I probably see the knees over toes mistake the most when I watch someone squat. This type of mistake can orginate from a variety of reasons like limited range of motion from the ankle, a motor control issue or tight thighs and hips. If you've been squatting and doing jump squats like this, you've probably noticed that anterior knee pain.
2. The Zombie-Gorilla Squatter - Flexed Thoracic Spine
This squat just looks really ugly. I mean, she looks like a gorilla-zombie of some sort. Why would you want to look like that while working out?! People who round their backs may not have the thoracic or shoulder mobility or motor control to keep their chest and torso upright.
3.The Caving Knee Squatter - Genu Valgus
This is the most common squatting pattern that I see with young women age 15-25. As the person squats, the knees have a tendancy to slowly migrate towards each other. This position internally rotates the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (leg bone) and causes more strain along the medial (inside) portion of the knee and as well as the hips and low back. Over pronation (fallen arches) and weak hip stabilizers are usually part of the problem.
How Do I Know If I'm Doing the Squat Properly?
Generally your feet should be about shoulder distance apart with a 5-10 degree turn out so that they don't need to be completely facing forward. I usually tell my clients to place most of their weight into the middle of their foot. If you place all your weight at the front, your knees will most likely go over your toes. If you place all of your weight along your heels, you're not going to get a lot of power in the position and you might feel like you're going to fall backwards.
As you start to descend into your squat, squeeze your buttock and hamstring muscles. When you activate the muscles along your backside (posterior chain) its like taking up the slack when you're trying to pull on a rope. This will help you maintain your posture and keep stable. If you think about spreading the floor with your feet, that can help activate your hip stabilizers as well.
A very general guideline that I like to use is that your torso is approximately parallel to your tibia (leg bone) as dispicted on the right picture. If you squat lower than parallel, then you will obviously need to lean forward a bit more but this gives you a general idea of whether or not you are doing the squat correctly. Keep practicing the squat until they are perfect and seek help if you're experiencing any pain!
Happy Squatting :)
Jessie Wong, Physiotherapist
*The exercises provided on this website are for educational purposes only, and are not to be interpreted as a recommendation for a specific treatment plan, or course of action. Exercise is not without its risks, and this or any other exercise program may result in injury. They include but are not limited to: risk of injury, aggravation of a pre-existing condition, or adverse effect of over-exertion such as muscle strain, abnormal blood pressure, fainting, disorders of heartbeat, and very rare instances of heart attack. To reduce the risk of injury, before beginning this or any exercise program, please consult a healthcare provider for appropriate exercise prescription and safety precautions. The exercise instruction and advice presented are in no way intended as a substitute for medical consultation. We disclaim any liability from and in connection with this program. As with any exercise program, if at any point during your workout you begin to feel faint, dizzy, or have physical discomfort, you should stop immediately and consult a physician.