Mobility! We can’t say this enough. Squatting is an essential and very important part of everyday life not just in the gym. Becoming more mobile in this movement will not only allow you to become stronger but will also keep you moving better throughout the rest of your life.
Three main areas that we see the most restriction are hip internal/external rotation, adductor tightness and ankle dorsiflexion.
Here are some drills to help you with these areas.
Bench Hip Internal Rotation Mobilization- If you have lack of hip internal rotation (IR) this can limit your squat depth and can also cause anterior hip pain. Here you want to kneel on a bench and place the hip in a position of IR. Slowly and repeatedly rock your hip back and forth until you feel a stretch deep in your hip capsule. If you feel a pinching in the front of the hip shorten the ROM don’t work through the pinch.
Standing Lunge on a Table- If you feel a perceived tightness in the bottom of your squat around the lower glute/ upper hamstring are this is for you. For this you want to place your leg on a high table or box while keeping a neutral spine (avoid posterior pelvic tilt) and then sink down into deep hip flexion.
Kneeling Hip Adductor Mobilization- If you have tight hip adductors your hips can go into excessive IR and the knees can also cave inwards excessively. These are two things that we do not want to happen while doing a squat. To perform this drill you want to keep a neutral spine and slowly move into both hip flexion and extension by kneeling on one knee while the other is extended out to the side.
Repeated Ankle Plantarflexion- One of the essential components of proper squatting mechanics is ankle dorsiflexion (DF). You can find and probably even done quite a few exercises to help ankle DF but have you ever added the opposite movement into your regimen? By doing repeated plantarflexion and big toe flexion you can help decrease the natural lock that occurs in your ankle. Solidify your temporary increase of mobility by doing this right before you squat with weight.
Paused Squats with IR/ER- If you struggle with limited squat depth and want to get better in the bottom position then you need to spend time getting comfortable there. Here you squat to just above your current depth ability ( where it is pain free) and slowly move your hips into ER and IR. This will train your mobility where it matters most! Be sure that this is pain free.
Be advised these and all other mobility drills promote a temporary increase in movement and decrease in pain. YOU must solidify your improvements by squatting with weight and continually adding these drills into your regimen.