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Weird Squat Problem

Quick question guys. When I do back squat it feels like I want to come up out of the hole with kind of a twist. Its like one leg pushes harder or something and wants to tilt or twist my hips. As hard as I try I cant get it to stop. I also feel tightness on the right side of my lower back. What can cause this and what should I work on. My squat numbers are TERRIBLE!!! I dont even want to mention what they are. I feel like I could do more, but once I hit the bottom I want to twist weird and it just kinda gives out. Any help would be GREAT! Thanks!!!

Oh, I have searched around and read Mike Robertsons Squat tips, I think some of those helped, but i still get this weird twist.

It would definitely be worth finding an experienced trainer or someone similar to do a posture evaluation and flexibility test. The Neanderthal No More series of articles could get you started on your own if you don’t have anyone else to help.

That should help you track down which muscles are too tight, or possibly you’ll find a muscle imbalance you will need to correct first.

I would suggest not pushing heavy weight until you get it sorted out. Heavy squats will not do good things if your hips are twisting.

Well thats the weird part. Normally, I have a pretty good posture. Today I just went light with 135lbs and it wasnt too bad. I still have a little twist if I try to go ATG. If I stop at parallel it isnt so bad if there at all. Could this be some sort of glute activation problem since it happens in the very bottom of a deep squat???

Can you post a vid?

Eh, not really. I dont have a camera or anything. Not really sure I know anyone that has one either. I just did some body weight squats and I found something out. If I really keep my lower back tight and arched and my chest stuck far out (as per Mike Robertsons tips) I can do it pain free without twisting.

But here is the problem. I can only go down to parallel or maybe even a little above parallel. If I go deeper, something rotates and I get a pain on the right side and that pain is what makes me twist (my body just does it automatically to avoid the pain). Does that mean something on my right is limiting my flexability at that point??? I have heard of people putting plates under their heels to help get past flexability issues. Is that for me???

I have a similar twisting problem when i squat. the weird thing is i didn’t notice it for a couple years but once i became aware of it i became obsessed with correcting it. the first thing i did was make sure i lined my feet up exactly the same. I noticed that my initial twist was caused by my body feeling more comfortable with my right foot positioned slightly further back than my left foot. so i suggest using tape on the ground or a line of some kind to line your feet up with.

but that didn’t stop the twisting completely. My twisting seemed to be connected to being very tight in the hip area. So I started doing a fairly rigorous warm up before doing anything in the gym. Very light good mornings, dead lifts etc.

then I worked on squatting and sticking my ass out as far as possible, going slow and focusing on staying straight. it really helped me but I have been working on this all alone. So I am curious as to what other suggestions people might have.

I have the same problem caused by either strength imbalance, leg length imbalance or slight curvature of the spine.

To somewhat fix the problem I did more unilateral work (lunge variations) and lowered my squat weight to the point where I stopped cheating then worked my way back up.

I also found that squatting narrower or wider helps the problem. It’s in between that causes problems.

Also, concentrate on forcing your knees out (i.e. spread the floor).

I have noticed that my feet feel the most natural at about should width and with my toes slightly out. Is it true that some people just cant do really deep squating??? I am 6’2" and most of my height is in my legs. Does this raise some problems for me? Any other tips would be great!!! I really want to learn to do this lift correctly since it is such an important lift.

I had similar issues when I first started squatting, in my case it was a mild case of scoliosis. Single leg excercises and lower back excercises help quite a bit, particularly revers hypers and some flexibility work. Once I got that imbalance worked out my squat numbers shot up significantly, the strength was there all along but my form was so far off I couldn’t safely get any power into that lift.

What sort of stuff did you do for flexability and lower back. I can do deadlifts ok, and I do some reverse hypers too. I am decently flexible, i can put my palms on the ground straight legged. I think my problem is in my glutes maybe. My hams seem to be pretty good.

I have a similar problem and I just realized it is because one of my hip flexors is tighter than the other, which is causing the compensation.

Hey boss,
Sounds to me like inhibited or weak glutes. Try doing so x-band walks (if you have bands), clams, and fire hydrants to activate the glute medius. Bird dogs and donkey kicks to activate the glute max. Do these before you squat to get everything firing.

You may also want to do some unilateral work and focus on keeping your pelvis from shifting to the side or rotating out of whack. Step ups, split squats, 1 leg squats, etc.

Something else that may help is: hold a 25lb plate straight out at arms length and squat. This puts the center of gravity forward, and should help you get deeper, recruiting your glutes more.

DB Bulgarian split Squats and weighted step ups

Thanks guys, i’ll have to try some of those exercises. Steve-O, you think that it is actually my glutes not being activated instead of being tight???

Oh, and JBodzin…nice avatar!!!

[quote]boss99er wrote:
Thanks guys, i’ll have to try some of those exercises. Steve-O, you think that it is actually my glutes not being activated instead of being tight???

Oh, and JBodzin…nice avatar!!![/quote]

I’m answering for him but yes, glute activation is key. also my $.2-work on dynamic flexibility and tissue quality (foam rolling).

Sorry, JBodzin, I know it’s rude to stare… But that avatar… eye catching indeed.

I have been working on flexibility…but I know I can work on it more. I’ll keep that up and try doing some glute activation exercises. Do i do those right before I am going to do squat, or do I do those several times a day, once a week, how often???

Without the benefit of a video or a physical evaluation I couldn’t make precise recommendations, but I have this suggestion. Take the advice you’ve received so far and implement it methodically, so that you can identify what helps.

For instance, if you’re twisting to the left, stretch you’re right ankle and perform your squat. Did it improve? If not, stretch your left psoas, then do another squat, re-eval, and so on. Make a list of every joint and muscle you stretch and it’s effect on your squat. The inverse then is to activate what might be long and weak.

The problem, of course, is that this is a long process and not entirely precise. The best thing to do is to call around and find someone qualified in testing length/tension and invest in an appointment. You could take the results from that and post it here.

I often have clients send me pictures (front, back, both sides, overhead, squatting, lunging, bending, twisting) or video and I evaluate from these. It is not ideal. I’ve had people present one way, but actually move contrary to what you would predict from the images.

Good luck.

Box squatting corrected the problem for me. It has worked for 2 guys I trained with and a guy I’m training right now.

I’m also doing a lot of unilateral leg work with him too. All versions of step ups, lunges, split and single leg variations I can think of.