T Nation

Squat Flexibility


#1

For some reason I cannot get into a deep squat. I feel extremely tight in my hips, hamstrings, groin, and lower back. I've tried foam rolling, stretching, and tennis ball work and nothing seems to work. I'm still extremely tight.

Any suggestions on where to go from here?


#2

3rd world squat, do this twice a day. Morning and evening for at least 90 seconds until you can sit comfortably and easily in this position:

http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/the_thirdworld_squat


#3

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


#4

I can do that easily, but my hips curl under like crazy. That's why I gave up deadlifting, couldn't get the bar to the ground without hips curling under.


#5

I'm sure that's not a problem if you're him, but if you're like us with a few hundred pounds on your back, that will lead to trouble.


#6

Pardon my ignorance but what does "not lose your lumbar lordosis" mean exactly?


#7

Gave up deadlifting forever or just until you got flexible enough? Thats a dumb move if you gave it up for good.


#8

Making sure you maintain the natural arch in your back. In that article, the guy in the blue shirt and jeans has his lower back rounded or tucked. Many peoples' backs do this when they squat and it's not good with a lot of weight on your back.

So he just meant to keep that arch throughout the entire range of motion.


#9

If this helps, I can get completely down into a third world squat except that I have to lean forward slight and extend my arms forward to maintain my balance. I will keep working on this. Thanks for the help.

Any other ideas.


#10

On the one hand, I might be a good person to answer this because I have, overall, quite poor flexibility and am too tight in just about everything, according to my (former as she is now treating accident victims for a doctor) massage therapist who I found very knowledgeable. Yet still squat deeper than anyone in my gym -- yes, even the ones that go parallel! :wink: -- and in most videos you'll see, other than Olympic lifters.

But on the other had, for all I know I might be better built for it.

Anyhow, I've gone through periods where the only way I could get to bottom was with at least 135. Couldn't do full squats any lighter for warmup, because there wasn't enough weight to overcome the inflexibility. There was in fact no muscular strength required at all to support myself and the weight as approaching bottom: inflexibility provided all the support.

Sometimes I even needed to pull myself the last bit down, even with the 135.

When having more problems with inflexibility, I'd use the 135 and go to what was for me the bottom -- yours might be higher, but for this purpose no matter -- and hold for 30 seconds. Then go back, as one set of stretching. A few such sets do quite a lot.

Another consideration is ankle flexibility. Stretching the calves on the last rep after having really worked them thoroughly can give a considerable improvement in ROM, moreso than stretching when they are not well-beaten-up.

I also find the leg press useful for flexibility. Only light weight is required. Focus on keeping the back arched and the butt pressed into the seatback. The hips absolutely must not be allowed to tuck under.

If the hip flexors are tight, I took BBB's advice of split squats and -- shame on me -- modified it on the thinking that the barbell's weight didn't seem to be able to have anything to do with it, and did split squats with no weight purely as stretches. Seems very good indeed. To tell the truth I didn't try making it as an exercise, as I am doing an amount of squatting already that most would consider nuts, so adding another weighted variety of squat really isn't called for presently in my case.

The positive part about inflexibility for the squat is, if you can get the depth you want but inflexibility is providing say 100 lb of resistance or more, it really helps in getting out of the hole.


#11

Damnit! I knew it. My squat sucks because I'm flexible. I was going with genetics but I like this excuse better as I no longer need to blame and resent my mother. Thanks Bill.


#12

:slight_smile:


#13

Oh, and also, try putting a 10 lb plate under each heel.

It need not be thought of as cheating (unless you are a PL'er), as Olympic lifters either often or typically wear shoes with considerable heel lift.

Myself, I don't need the plates with shoes for full squats, or barefoot for parallel, but do need them for barefoot (or actually, moccasins) and ATG. But different people vary and can have more need for heel lift.

Hey, using some heel lift was good enough for Arnold.


#14

Oh good. A thread for tight people.
I am here.

What Bill said about using plates as heels helps a bit, but my favorite at the moment since I am coming back after a long lay off is to jump at the end of my propulsion phase. I find that psychologically this has the effect of going down deeper since I am not going to stay low and experience any tightness in the form of a stretch, pull or any resistance - because as soon as I hit bottom I am already pushing up - that, in my head at least, makes me feel like I am always exploding it up and not experiencing a negative ( this also addresses my concern that my left knee might give up under me if I stay there for more than a fraction with the weight ), in fact the negative becomes a positive compression to handle the weight more effectively - it all becomes one forward ( I know it's upwards, by forward I mean 'moving forward' 'expanding' as opposed to the contraction experienced on the negative phase ) motion.

May be the OP can adapt this mental make up and come up with an alternative that works for him.

I do 10x8, 10x10 of these with my body weight ( I am 5'6" 158.7 lbs ).

I also find that sumo squats stance I have no problem with ankle flexibility. And it makes me wonder if it has anything to do with the fact I have a swimmers back and my shoulder length being wider than normal makes normal stance feel off balance.


#15

Band stretching took me from being unable to properly squat (that is, without rounding my back at near parallel) to being able to squat to boxes under a foot.

The most important stretches for me, personally, were hamstring swings and kicks with the band. These loosened up my hamstrings considerably and made it so they did not 'pull' my lower back down with them during the squatting movement. The other stretches - for the adductors, IT band, calves - were helpful as well, but hamstrings were my problem area.


#16

I had problems with squatting too. Previous my workout I do stretches of psoas, even abductors.

I'm anterior tilt pelvic, but I've recognize my imbalance on my posterior chain because:

Driving in my car with the seat position too back has done I pushed the clutch lengthen the left leg much. The position of the toe has affected pririformis and semi membranous, tighten a lot.

My hams are tighten too, so when I try to flex to touch my toes with my hands with stiff legs, come at point my hip donâ??t move and is my lower back down to try touch my toes. I can touch the floor with my palms in this case.

I have a strong erectors and my gluteus and hams are lagged due to poor habits or do things wrong working out the gym and so on. My posterior chain is very bad.

In this case, I do stretches or piriformis and psoas, abductors , with some exercises of gluteus, and I improve my range of motion of back squat, even thought I would like to feel more my hams in this exercise.

Even the last workout I stretched my hams previously to do squat to check what was going, and my range improve enormously, but the previous stretch decreased the force of torsion thus the force production.

I want to try doing Self Myofascial Release before the workout too.


#17

Buy Magnificent Mobility

the whole point of the god damn DVD is to increase hip flexibility

the first time i ever did the squat to stand drill, i remember my hips going craaaaazy


#18

I think I must be inflexible too.

Problems: I have trouble leading with my hips, I always "want" to bend my knees first.

When I do manage to use my hips, they feel wrong afterwards and I have to wiggle them and walk it off.

I have trouble getting depth. I can't just "drop" into a squat below parallel -- I have to push down slowly.

I haven't stretched -- period! -- in maybe five years. I thought I'd never need it. So I'm not the "person who's tried everything." What's the first thing to try?


#19

I disagree with this. Oly lifters use shoes with considerable heel lift to increase the recruitment of their quads. That goal is acceptable (considering that they can also squat all the way down barefoot.)

For someone to use a plate under their heels to compensate for lack of flexibility, that is not the same goal, and it is not acceptable. And here it's why.

The former uses it as an sport advantage AND he/she is flexible. The later is using it as a clutch, it does not resolve the issue of inflexibility. And worse, it can aggravate the issue by constantly squatting (and getting stronger) with that limited range of motion.

Consider this. If you have a joint that is inflexible, and you get the muscles that flex it to be stronger while never stretching it, it will remain inflexible at best, or become more inflexible in the long run at worst.

When there are flexibility problems doing full squats, the culprits are usually dorsiflexion inflexibility as well as inflexibility of the gluteus maximus and abductor magnus. Continuous stretching habits of the calves and soleus (for dorsiflexion) as well as stretching of the gluteus maximus will, over time, improve one's ability to perform a full squat.

I would suggest the OP to read the following article on the subject at exrx.net:

http://www.exrx.net/Questions/FullSquatHipFlex.html

Another thing that helps is to always stretch the hip flexors (the iliopsas) immediately before every set of squats or dead lifts. An inflexible iliopsas can cause lower back injury on the negative (as you lower yourself down, closing the angle between the femur and the trunk.) The stretch below is one that I recommend before every set of squatting.

http://www.exrx.net/Stretches/HipFlexors/KneelingHipFlexor.html

Not everyone is Ah'nold. And we should never discount the healing, anti-inflammatory properties of the juice. A very athletic person with an oak for lower back (and specially on the juice) can get away with a lot of shit that a person wondering about inflexibility on full squats might. Also, do we know if Arnold used those because he was inflexible, or because he was recruiting his quads even further, just like Oly lifters do?

Having said that, it might be that the OP and/or you are not necessarily built for deep squatting. There is an article or two in this website on that subject, and I cannot remember where I read that people with longer limbs with relation to their torsos might have a harder time full squatting. Don't quote me on that because I don't remember where I read that.

Anyways, I honestly believe that, barring having a firm athleticism (and perhaps juice), a person should, for the sake of safety, first improve his glute and dorsiflexion flexibility to get into a good deep squat position with a load on his back. Once that has been achieved, or if it is confirmed that it might not be anatomically ideal for that person, that person might opt at that point to use small plates under the heels.

My 0.02.


#20

Huh. Here I had thought I had recommened methods of improving the other flexibilities and also the for dorsiflexion and only then suggested he could consider the plates if need be.

Geez I must not have said what I thought I did.

And the idea that Olympic lifters use shoes with heel lift because they're aiming to recruit their quads more is ridiculous, btw. No, they are looking to be able to go deeper, to use better form overall, and lift heavier weights. Not to target a muscle.

Why you think using a board or 10 lb plates under the heels puts more stress on the lower back I can't even begin to imagine.

(Take a disputative tone as you did and I'd hope you wouldn't then object to blunt refutation...)