Why Squat? Think Skiing and Snowboarding!

By David Kandel, PT, OCS, CSCS

PVHMC Physical Therapist

Athletes understand that an important reason to squat is to enhance athletic performance. Properly performed squatting exercises strengthen the buttocks, thighs, and core. Winter sports enthusiasts might be interested to know that squat endurance and strengthening exercises are essential when preparing for a safe and enjoyable skiing and snowboarding season. Squats enhance balance and stability and help reduce the risk of injuries, such as ACL tear or patellofemoral pain.

There are many variations of the squat, including the use of weights, bosu balls, elastic bands, single leg squats, etc. I leave it to you and your personal trainer to guide you in your choice of exercises to accomplish your personal goals. However, you must first learn to perform a basic squat correctly before taking it into the weight room.

To squat properly, you must first learn to separate movements of the hips from movements of the lower back. You must be able to bend your hips and knees without moving the lumbar spine out of its neutral alignment. Once you master this “hip hinge” motion, you can progress to squatting in the following way:

Start with your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart with the feet very slightly turned outward. As you begin to squat using the hip hinge motion, your pelvis should move backward during the downward phase. The pelvis should continue to move along approximately a 45-degree angle backward and downward until your thighs are approximately parallel with the floor. Keep your chest up and the shoulder blades back to help you keep the lower back neutral. To return to full standing, use the buttock muscles to drive the hips forward and upward. If you lack adequate strength or hip flexibility, you might not be able to squat as deeply as described above. If this is the case, start with shallower squats and work into deeper squats as your strength develops. If you have a history of anterior knee pain (knee cap pain), use caution with squatting exercises, especially when adding weight or with deeper squats. Discontinue the exercise if you are experiencing pain.

In the beginning, as you are learning to squat, you can start with your arms outstretched to the sides and move the arms forward as you squat to help you keep your balance. The three photographs above show the start position, mid-point in the squat, and end position of the downward phase.

Start with three sets of 10 repetitions and progress to three sets of 20 repetitions. Continuing three sets of 20 reps of these basic squats three times per week should be adequate training to help you maintain good postures during your activities of daily living. If you are performing basic squats with good form, and you are interested in using squats to enhance sports performance, you are now ready to add some weight to your squats. I recommend working with a trainer, initially, to learn how to safely use dumbbells, barbells or other equipment with your squats.

Categories

Our

Locations