T Nation

Full Squat Flexibility

I’ve recently seen the light and begun the good old “ass to the grass” squats, and I’m having trouble maintaining a straight back while keeping my feet flat. I can keep my back straight, but the lower I get to the ground, I start to rise up on the balls of my feet. I’ve read that getting this down involves lots of practice and flexibility in the hips. What specifically can I do to get this flexibility in terms of stretches or exercises? Thanks!

Sounds like an issue of both hip and ANKLE flexibility to me. Work on both.

Sounds like ankle flexibility to me, too. Stretch your calves, and get some shoes with a heel like Olympic lifting shoes. In the mean time go down only as far as you can while maintaining good form.

Theres a stretch for the psoas somewhere in an old Poliquin Q&A article. It helped me a lot. You’ll probably want to look for the article for pictures, but I’ll try to explain.

Set up an incline bench or something similar to a height so that when you stand at the inclined end facing away you can put one foot up on it at ‘glute-height.’

Bend the other knee enough so that you can push the knee of the raised leg back directly underneath where your foot is set.

With a straight back, put your hands on your thigh and lean back into your leg.

Do one leg. Relax. Repeat. Then do the same with the other. Three times a day.

Look for the pictures in the article.

Try barefoot squate, meaning no shoes, its the only way i squat anymore, helps keep a good base, and alows your anke to move more naturally

Ryno is right on with the psoas (hip flexor) stretch. There’s also a good one in Ian King’s “lazy mans guide to stretching” article. The last stretch in the article hits your hip flexors. You would probably see good results from doing the whole lower body section though.

Thanks you guys. Here’s a link to that psoas stretch-

And thanks again for the advice. I will commence the ankle and psoas stretching today…

Actually, Fek, I HAVE been barefooting, which is what made me notice it so much- I would go all the way down, peer down, and realize I was up on the balls of my feet!

Incorporate squatting into your everday life. For instance, instead of bending over or kneeling down to pick things up, squat down. Squat while doing things like: tying your shoes, washing the sides of your car, picking up after the kids (if you have them), and of course, any time you have to pick up dumbbells from the floor, etc. I think taking calf raises all the way down to full stretch also helps develop this flexibility. Also, try turning your feet outward a bit.

It can be a flexibility issue but can also be just due to the fact that you’re unfamiliar with the movement. I like starting people off with box squats which really helps the technical aspect. Find a box just below parallel and sit back on the box as you squat down. Sitting back on the box tends to teach your body that it’s “ok” to sit back and your body will quickly adjust to it and you oughta be able to go back to regular squatting without any trouble.