T Nation

Squat Depth


#1

For a while I've been squatting parallel but recently been trying to go a couple inches bellow. After I do though I seem to get a slight pain on the left side of my lower back just above my coccyx. I know I have tight hip flexors on my left side so I think this is the problem? Anyone got any tips to improve hip mobility?

Cheers!


#2

You mean tight extensors? Hip flexors don’t come into play when squatting.

Your pain probably comes from lower back rounding. The rounding could be caused by a number of things:

  • core weakness
  • tight glutes/hams
  • bad stance
  • lack of ankle mobility

A vid would help spot any form issues.


#3

I do get a tight feeling where my hip flexors are when I squat bellow parallel so just assumed it was them, and the fact that the pains only on the same side as my tight HFs pointed to them also. I’l get a video up.


#4

squats do stretch the hip flexors…
maybe some of the stuff over here will help:


#5

[quote]JayPierce wrote:
You mean tight extensors? Hip flexors don’t come into play when squatting.

Your pain probably comes from lower back rounding. The rounding could be caused by a number of things:

  • core weakness
  • tight glutes/hams
  • bad stance
  • lack of ankle mobility

A vid would help spot any form issues.[/quote]

For me, I noticed that the best way to keep my back arched (if that is in fact the problem) is to start the movement by moving my hips horizontally back to start the movement while keeping my chest up in the same position it was in when I was starting the rep trying to keep my head parallel to the wall/mirror as it was at the start of the rep. (ex l to >).

Also right before I hit the bottom of the rep, I try to pull my knees to my shoulders and then immediately move the weight up as fast as I can without stopping at the bottom. I do not compromise my back arch in the process however.

Not sure if this helps.

-Zep


#6

From the sounds of it, taking into account its only on one side of your back you might want to look at doing some unilateral work on your hams/glutes. It might be that you just have an imbalance that needs to be sorted out. How’s your posture?

Then again it could be something completely different like a lack of core strength, this is just one possibility.


#7

[quote]alexus wrote:
squats do stretch the hip flexors…
[/quote]
You’re going to have to explain this to me. To stretch the hip flexors, you have to basically hyper-extend the hip. Squats flex the hip, so no stretch.

Goblet squats did help me a lot, especially leaning against a swiss ball/wall and pushing the knees out with my elbows. Just be careful not to get stuck. A rope attached to a rack or something will help pull yourself out of the hole.

Make damn sure you stretch your calves and do some ankle mobility stuff, too. Ankle mobility is a big culprit in low-back issues among athletes.


#8

you are going to have to explain this to me

fair enough. i’m thinking of the psoas, in particular. they are a hip flexor and they attach (originate, insert, whatever) into the lumbar spine.

feels to me like they psoas get a good stretch in a deep squat. feels to me like the psoas get even more of a good stretch in a deep squat when one maintains a hard lumbar arch.

on the thread that i posted a link to there was some discussion… it might be that actually the deep squat (with lumbar curve) recruits the psoas in a way that feels good (they are fairly weak for a lot of people) rather than stretching it…

anyway… i had extremely tight hip flexors. i spent a lot of time trying to stretch them (quad stretch, lunge stretch etc). developed anterior femoral glide (as the hip flexors loosened up my femur wouldn’t stay put properly in its socket). what eventually sorted my hip issues was

  1. working on the goblet squat (stop stretching the hip flexors)
  2. working on holding a hard lumbar arch in the squat position

but it might not be about stretching, as you say.


#9

Hi Mr OP,
I am having the same difficulties as you.

In attempt to correct my imbalance Im concentrating on hip and ankle mobility, and I am also
now looking into glute activation.

Another thing I am doing, not sure if its right or not, is
PNF stretching of my hamstrings every second day for 6 minutes per leg., as my hammies are tight.

tweet tweet


#10

[quote]alexus wrote:
they are a hip flexor and they attach (originate, insert, whatever) into the lumbar spine. [/quote]
Of course. But as the knee moves upward during hip flexion, the psoas is shortened, not lengthened.

Pretty sure that’s the adductors you’re feeling stretch along the inner thigh. Adductor magnus and gracilis in particular are going to get a really good stretch with the hips rotated anteriorly during a squat.

The psoas major has one main function, and that’s to pull the femur toward the lumbar spine:
http://www.exrx.net/Articulations/Hip.html#anchor845056

It’s secondary function is rotation of the lumbar spine.

[quote]anyway… i had extremely tight hip flexors. i spent a lot of time trying to stretch them (quad stretch, lunge stretch etc). developed anterior femoral glide (as the hip flexors loosened up my femur wouldn’t stay put properly in its socket). what eventually sorted my hip issues was

  1. working on the goblet squat (stop stretching the hip flexors)
  2. working on holding a hard lumbar arch in the squat position

but it might not be about stretching, as you say.[/quote]
Goblet squats are the bomb, and almost everybody needs to put more focus on arching hard when they squat. When you look at your skeleto-muscular system as a whole and look at the structure of it during the squat, you can see how that lumbar arch evens out the strain and makes everything more solid and stable.

Now, when I say arching hard, I don’t mean arching as far as you can. I mean locking it down. Arching too far can cause problems of its own.


#11

i think…

well, i could be wrong… but i think i do feel squats in my hip flexors.
by squat i mean ‘front squat’ (sorry Ripptoe).
the idea of ‘pulling yourself down with your hip flexors’ or ‘sitting hard into your hip flexors’ (with lumbar arch).
sometimes it feels like the ‘pulling myself down’ is stretching them.

but it is possible that it is just that it is ACTIVATING them. but i swear… sometimes i need to work on the descent slowly… like the hip flexors are stretching to allow the full range of motion.

but perhaps i’m wrong…


#12

The psoas major has one main function, and that’s to pull the femur toward the lumbar spine:
http://www.exrx.net/...ml#anchor845056

oh. yes. do you see what he is doing there? lying on his back and squatting lolz.
recruiting the psoas…

funny how a recruitment feels like a stretch.

though… maybe not. glute activation kinda feels like a stretch to me, too.

or perhaps i’m just very odd.


#13

OP, I had a really similar problem too you about a month ago, but I’ve seemed to have fixed it by:

*Foam Rolling the shit out of the area. I leave a tennis ball on my coffee table so everytime I sit down I see it and remember to d it while I watch TV.
*Squat barefoot or in socks. No idea why, but as soon as I did this, my squat depth has inreased with no pain
*Goblet squats as a warm-up for regular squats.

Hope that helps!


#14

[quote]alexus wrote:

The psoas major has one main function, and that’s to pull the femur toward the lumbar spine:
http://www.exrx.net/...ml#anchor845056

oh. yes. do you see what he is doing there? lying on his back and squatting lolz.
recruiting the psoas…
[/quote]
C’mon, man. That’s like saying a bent row and bench press are the same because it’s the same motion. He’s not squatting, he’s pulling his knees to his chest.

And I don’t know where you’re getting this ‘pulling yourself down’ and ‘sitting into your hip flexors’ garbage, but that just sounds retarded. If you can focus on pulling yourself down, you need to pile more weight on the bar.

Bottom line: You can stretch your hip flexors during a squat about as much as you can stretch your biceps during a triceps press.


#15

[quote]Spidey22 wrote:
*Squat barefoot or in socks. No idea why, but as soon as I did this, my squat depth has inreased with no pain
[/quote]

Be very careful giving this out as advice. In someone with poor ankle mobility, this is going to make the problem worse, not better.

You were prolly squatting in squishy shoes. Barefoot made you more solid and stable.


#16

it might ‘sound retarded’ but some people find the cues to ‘pull yourself down’ and ‘sit into your hip flexors’ an effective fix for loss of lumbar arch:

as for piling more weight on the bar:

  1. learn to squat.
  2. load the squat.

if you can’t squat without weight what the hell you doing trying to load it up?

i take back ‘stretch the hip flexors’ and replace it with ‘recruit the hip flexors’. i’d still advocate it for people who believe that the problem is that their hip flexors are tight and need to be stretched, though. i’d say ‘quit with stretching them and learn to recruit them instead’.


#17

[quote]JayPierce wrote:

[quote]Spidey22 wrote:
*Squat barefoot or in socks. No idea why, but as soon as I did this, my squat depth has inreased with no pain
[/quote]

Be very careful giving this out as advice. In someone with poor ankle mobility, this is going to make the problem worse, not better.

You were prolly squatting in squishy shoes. Barefoot made you more solid and stable.[/quote]

Really? I wasnt aware of that. I was wearing Nike Frees without the soles before that. But I’m not crazy knowledgeable with stuff like this, just figured I’d give him the info I used to help me and hopefully he’d try it out and see what works for him


#18

[quote]jeromeo wrote:
I do get a tight feeling where my hip flexors are when I squat bellow parallel so just assumed it was them.[/quote]
Do you squat narrow or wide stance? Since switching to wide stance, I have noticed significant soreness in the psoas region after taxing squat days. I’m not an expert on muscles, but I find it hard to believe that the hip flexors aren’t recruited in some fashion in wide-stance squats.


#19

[quote]alexus wrote:
it might ‘sound retarded’ but some people find the cues to ‘pull yourself down’ and ‘sit into your hip flexors’ an effective fix for loss of lumbar arch:
[/quote]

Fine. As far as mental cues go, you do whatever you need to get it right.

[quote]as for piling more weight on the bar:

  1. learn to squat.
  2. load the squat.

if you can’t squat without weight what the hell you doing trying to load it up?[/quote]

I have never had to worry about ‘pulling myself down’. The weight does that for me. Focusing on controlling the descent, while not slowing it down much, and staying ‘locked down’ has always done well for me. I already posted that goblet squats are my favorite warm-up.

I’m not advocating piling on weight for a newb that squats like shit. If I’m trying to work on technique by doing unweighted squats, then yes, I’ll have to pull myself down. But with a weighted squat, there are better things to focus on than ‘sitting back into your hip flexors’.

[quote] i take back ‘stretch the hip flexors’ and replace it with ‘recruit the hip flexors’. i’d still advocate it for people who believe that the problem is that their hip flexors are tight and need to be stretched, though. i’d say ‘quit with stretching them and learn to recruit them instead’.

[/quote]
OK, I tell you what. Load up a barbell (just heavy enough to sink you into the hole). Hit the bottom squat position and hold it. Now, activating your hip flexors, pull your knees up farther toward your chest (that’s what hip flexors do). There are two things you’ll notice:

  1. It didn’t do diddly shit for your squat, except maybe pull you down deeper into the hole (not where you want to be).

  2. You will likely lose your lumbar arch.


#20

[quote]kpsnap wrote:

[quote]jeromeo wrote:
I do get a tight feeling where my hip flexors are when I squat bellow parallel so just assumed it was them.[/quote]
Do you squat narrow or wide stance? Since switching to wide stance, I have noticed significant soreness in the psoas region after taxing squat days. I’m not an expert on muscles, but I find it hard to believe that the hip flexors aren’t recruited in some fashion in wide-stance squats.[/quote]
Tell me why you would think they play a part in wide-stance, but not narrow-stance.