T Nation

Squatting Flexibility Issues


#1

So I've been digging around for squat flexibility posts and articles.. I'm immediately going to start working on the third world squad but my problem is this. I'm trying to diagnose where it is that I'm so inflexible.

Walking naturally, for me, my toes point outward. When i stand still and look down at my feet they are in a v shape. When i do wide leg squats (sumo squats) my toes almost want to point completely horizontal.. Like they're pointing at the plates on the bar.

When i squat my body wants to bend really far forward. I have a hard time keeping my chest up. I've tried front squats but the direction my toes want to point doesn't look or seem to feel right with what my knees are doing, so i kinda back off. Its kinda hard for me too really feel the weight on my heals although i don't feel that I'm lacking in glute activation. I just feel like in my hips and calves.

Is there a way to correct my toes pointing outward? What can i do to try and repair my squat. I really want to avoid knee/back injuries..


#2

Post a video of yourself walking and another of yourself squatting. Also post what you're doing as far as flexibility work. Kinda hard to tell what's going on just from a text post.


#3

I'm not an expert and I've been working my flexibility myself, so I'm interested in this. That said, it's my understanding that your toes pointing out somewhat isn't bad as long as your knees travel the same direction (if that makes sense). Of course, I'm not sure if that's relevant to how far your toes are pointing though, as from what you've written (nearly horizontal) it sounds pretty sever.

I could certainly be wrong about all of this though (I'm a beginner myself), so if I am, I look forward to correction.


#4

Your feet are suppose to point out slightly during the squat, though not excessively, and they certainly shouldn't be pointing "at the plates" which should be BEHIND YOU.

Most people feel comfortable with their feet pointed out anywhere from about 20 to 50 degrees, with a stance slightly wider than shoulder width. My advice would be to practice this often, otherwise how do you expect to get good at it?

If you keep trying to find ways AROUND your inflexibility, all you're going to do is exacerbate the problem. Stop pointing your feet out horizontally, stop taking a wide stance, and stop leaning forward - if the weight is too heavy to allow 10 good reps for now, then I think you should lighten it.

Stretch your hips, hamstrings, quads, and glutes daily; Watch and imitate good technique (eg: SquatRX), practice often; Strengthen all the supporting muscle groups of the squat (all the things you should be stretching, plus the lower back and abdominals).

And you should consciously stop your feet from pointing outward when you walk around, not for any physiological reason that I'm aware of, but because that sounds fucking ridiculous looking unless you are Daffy Duck.


#5

Been doing this every now and then after training, helps loosen up the hips and glutes, good stretching for the posterior chain:


#6

Well I mean I exaggerated a little. like when i squat with a wide, wide, stance my feet want to point horizontal.. Or close to it... i CANT stop the lean forward or else i wouldn't be able to get down to parallel. I'm in no way trying to find ways around the problem. I want what everyone who squats heavy wants.. Solid squat form.

My toes want to point out but my knees don't really want to travel along with them. They kinda want to stay in. I guess "pinch" in.. I'm worried that this will lead to a knee injury. I have no way of recording myself at the moment. Its very hard to get to parallel without wanting to fall back. So of course i compensate by leaning forward. I've been told i have long legs.. So i try front squats. I'm noticing i still feel inflexible and tight. I'm starting to think its somewhat in my hamstrings as when i lean forward i definitely feel a tug there.. Maybe in my hips as well. With the toes thing, I'd like to correct it if possible. I'm aware that a slight toe angle is ok, but I'd say with my knees wanting to pinch in that its more than a slight angle... I work out in my garage btw. So i don't have access to machines.

I played hockey for six years if that helps at all.. maybe that can be attributed to why me toes point out? I don't know.

Diluted
Thanks for that video. I'm definitely going to get to work on those.

JayPierce
The only flexibility I've been working on is third world squats. I recently started searching. I've been squatting for a while now. However i recently had to look at my bench press because I started noticing some shoulder discomfort. I was like alright.. This isn't right, I'm going to get my bench corrected. I did some searches and found Dave Tate's "So You Think You Can Bench." While I'm sure its still not perfect my last bench workout i didn't notice any shoulder discomfort and was able to press more weight. So this has kind of motivated me to make sure every lift is as close to perfect a I can get and I will still continue to work on form after that.

I feel my problems are tightness in hips and hamstrings, the knees wanting to pinch in and my lean forward. I've done searches but I've also read that static stretches reduce strength? I'd kind of like to avoid losing any strength.

When i walk my toes do point outward. Not a Extreme amount, but enough for people to notice. I have tried to consciously stop my toes from doing that but that causes my knees to want to point in. It feels tight somewhere and i cant find out where. Yea it does sound ridiculous, glad yo could deduce that one. I noticed it too, hence my asking if its correctable.


#7

This is huge. It made a huge difference for me and the results are immediate. If it's really bad do it 2 times a day for at least 15 minutes.

i'd really encourage you to research more myofacial trigger points. Doing this type of stuff made a world of difference to many muscles and tightness issues I HAD in my body.


#8

Thanks bullet. Yea after watching both of those videos for the psosa or what not and the video linked above i immediately went and started those stretches and started working on my third world squat.

I Appreciate the help guys.. Any one got anything for the toes pointing outward haha?


#9

Yeah dude I do this a few times a week and + foam rolling every morning and the pain in my lower back and what use to come down my legs are gone now... Just these little things can make a world of difference!


#10

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6529481301858251744&hl#

50 minute seminar with Dan John.


#11

Just a thought... If your knees are straight and your toes end up pointed out... Maybe it's something with the feet? Are you an over pronator (roll from the oustide of your foot in when you walk, is you arch flat, is the inside part of your calf small/weak)?

I wouldn't discount the glutes being part of the issue either (plus I don't think there is such a thing as glutes being too strong, so work them, There are some good articles on this site about glute training and activation. Have you tried doing some single leg stuff to see what happens?

This might help you get a better handle on the issue (lunges, single leg RDLs, one legged squats, etc...). Just some thoughts, but no answers really.


#12

I've watched the seminar with Dan John and while i find it very informative. I am closer to the guy that's pretty inflexible if not worse than him. I want to continue to do leg workouts but it frustrates me that my squat looks like crap and I'm inflexible. I hear of so many full body benefits from squats, that it just doesn't seem like anything else would deliver similar results.

About how long on these stretches and routines before i start seeing result in my squat?

I've read elsewhere that my feet pointing outwards is something called "open hips" and that only surgery can fully correct it. Being as skeptical as I am, not for one second do I believe the only fix is surgery. I assume that it might have been in my hips and ankles. The weak inside calf sounds like a good explanation.


#13

Here are some more good links:

http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_repair/18_tips_for_bulletproof_knees
Copy and paste: youtube.com/watch?v=3JZHiqAbndA&feature=player_embedded

Deep tissue massage is great if you can afford it:
Copy and paste: youtube.com/watch?v=fFUUdc7N6AY&feature=player_embedded#!

But foam rolling and or using a tennis ball and working up to a croquet ball are great.

In the end, give it your best shot, but it might be necessary to contact an expert.

Right now I'm looking into supplementing with systemic enzymes. They help to break up scar tissue in the body, so that could be very beneficial/worthwhile if you are attempting to spend some time focusing on getting loose.


#14

dude, you might just be legit duck footed. Has a doctor ever said anything? did you ever have braces as a child/ were you supposed to?


#15

You might enjoy this series on raw squatting:
http://functional-strength.blogspot.com/2010/04/developing-your-raw-squat-pt-i.html
http://functional-strength.blogspot.com/2010/04/developing-your-raw-squat-pt-2.html
http://functional-strength.blogspot.com/2010/04/developing-your-raw-squat-pt-3.html

I squat with a close stance (shoulder width), so if you enjoy wide stance squats, this might not be applicable, but what made a big difference for me was:
1) squat shoes (with heel) - probably not for wide stance squatting, but for shoulder width squats or front squats, they're great.
2) moving my bar position up slightly. This really helped with keeping a more upright position, and feels much stronger generally.


#16

I also do this daily! But don't stop with just the piriformis... straight out the legs and roll just under the iliac crest, all the way around to the front of your body. I bet you will find a few trigger points! It has made a world of difference for my back and glutes. Follow the rolling with some good glute stretches and that will help a lot I think.

Also with the tennis/LAX ball, try rolling around just below the ischial tuberosity (easiest to do while in a chair). That could help loosen up the hamstrings (followed by stretching again).

Then roll the calves and bottom of the feet. You could also try rolling around the quads and see if you find any trigger points.

This all has helped me tremendously. I'm not duck-footed but I do have very low arches and that seems to cause all sorts of problems.


#17

might wanna give these a try, see if it helps... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxhgVtQwJpI