Welcome to the third and final segment of the Integral Movement Series. In the first two segments we discussed why we should be incorporating regular deadlifting and overhead pressing into our routines. Today, we’ll be looking at what some call the king of all exercises; the squat.
Much like the deadlift, the squat provides an array of benefits when performed correctly. Mainly, it allows us to express full range of motion of the majority of our lower body while under load. Our hips and knees both experience full excursion when we perform this exercise. Here’s why we love the squat.
It teaches us effective load ordering.
It is very import to express proper load ordering when performing the squat. This means we must initiate the movement with our hips first, pushing our hips back slightly before we break at the knees. If we do the opposite, this means that the knee joint is the first joint to take the load. When we order the hips to break before the knees, this allows us to buffer the load with the stronger, more robust joint first (hips), and then share the load with the second strongest joint (knees) second. When we learn to perform the squat correctly, it allows us to ingrain this movement pattern which can then be translated into other movements such as deadlifting and jumping.
It allows us to express full range of motion of our hips and knees.
From our standing position to our bottom position, when we perform a true deep squat, our hips and knees undergo their full range of motion. When we’re standing with the bar on our back, our hips and knees are both in full extension, as we descend into the bottom position these joints begin to experience flexion. By the time we’re sitting in the bottom position of a deep squat, our hips and knees are now placed into full flexion, all while under load. This is very important as it allows us to improve the strength, congruency and overall integrity of these joints. We now know that hip mobility (and stability) has a direct impact on hip and low back health. The more we groove this pattern and integrate this full range of motion within the hips, the less our back is going to suffer while performing strenuous activities. It’s also worth mentioning that our ankles undergo a fair amount of dorsi-flexion during deep squatting.
It teaches us how to control and brace our entire spine though movement.
In order to maximize performance and prevent injury, the spine must always be in a neutral, braced position. This means that from the moment you un-rack the bar, to moment you re-rack the bar, there should be no deviation in your spinal mechanics. Proper squatting teaches us how to fill the diaphragm with air, brace the abdomen, retract the shoulder blades and tuck the chin. This is the most mechanically stable position for the spine while under load.
It teaches us how to create torque from our hips.
When we’re squatting, we need a method to maintain stability within the hips. This is why we create torque from the hips while we squat. This is that knee out position that we favor, all while screwing our feet outward into the ground. This creates stability within the hip capsule, which also leads to stability within the lumbar spine. It also winds up our ACL into a stable position and opens up our foot and ankle into a stable position. This is important because this torsion can also be applied to our deadlifting, pressing or any movement that requires maximal stability within the hip or shoulder and it’s extremities.
Thank you for reading the final segment of the Integral Movement Series. Please share and comment with your feedback and stay tuned for the Integral Movement Series E-Book!