Optimising Your Squat

I was recently reading the article titled “Optimizing Squat Technique” that was published in the strength and conditioning journal in 2007 and thought I would highlight some of the key take home messages as the squat is a great exercise to perform.  From a clinical perspective, often we are looking to get our clients squatting (bodyweight or with external load) to work on developing ones movement and enhance their function, after all, the squat is one of the fundamental movement patterns that we as humans perform a daily basis.

Key Messages From The Article

  • The squat is one of the most commonly prescribed exercises to develop and strength and power in the lower body in both the strength and conditioning field, but also the rehabilitative setting.
  • The squat has been shown to not place excess strain on the anterior cruciate ligament.
  • Whilst the compressive and shear forces increases through the knee as it flexes, there has been shown to be less anterior displacement when compared to an open chain exercise such as the leg extension.
  • ACL forces have been shown to be less when squatting with the heels on the ground compared to squatting with elevated heels.
  • The squat being a closed chain exercise appears to be a safer leg strengthening exercise than an open chain exercise.
  • By limiting ones knee translation anteriorly i.e. not letting the knees pass over the toes, there is an increased torque in the hip.  The restricted squat also tends to increase ones forward lean and therefore shear forces through ones lumbar spine.
  • A downward head or eye gaze during the squat will increase ones hip and trunk flexion.
  • Increasing ones squat depth results in increased recruitment of the gluteus maximus.
  • Change in squat depth did not increase ones quadricep muscle activity levels (loads tested were submaximal).
  • Individuals with patellofemoral dysfunction may benefit from limiting knee flexion during the squat to reduce force through the knee.
  • The squat produces minimal activity in the hamstring muscles.

My summary of this is that should you not have any pre existing musculoskeletal complaints i.e issues with spinal compression and patellofemoral pain, then have the individual squat to a depth that is comfortable and preferably below 90 degrees to get the most out of your gluteals and quadricep muscles.  The individual should maintain a forward gaze, minimise the trunk lean and choose a stance that feels comfortable to them.

This blog was written by Osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy.


Principle Four Osteopathy

Principle Four Osteopathy is one of Melbourne City CBD leading Osteopathy clinics. At the clinic we treat a wide range of clients, ranging from the office worker, exercise enthusiast to athlete. We have 3 experienced osteopaths working across both of the clinics.

The Melbourne City CBD clinic is located at 29 Somerset Place (basement), close to the corner of Elizabeth St and Little Bourke in the Melbourne City CBD. Our premises adjoin the Jon Weller Personal Training Studio, a fully-equipped training space which allows clients to combine their osteopathy treatment with exercise tutorials or specific training programs and rehabilitation.

The Docklands clinic is located at 717 Bourke St (Ground Floor), beneath the Channel 9 building near the walkway from Southern Cross Train Station to Etihad Stadium. Our premises adjoin Pilates on Bourke, a fully-equipped pilates and yoga training space which allows clients to combine their osteopathy treatment with exercise tutorials, pilates or specific training programs and rehabilitation.

To speak to an Osteopath or book an appointment at Principle Four Osteopathy, please book online or call 03 9670 9290.