Dr Alex Eade (Osteopath)
The best way to start is by doing a squat, starting unloaded.
The first thing to look at is depth. Are we getting depth, how close is the thigh to hitting 90 degrees or parallel from the floor. This may indicate a mobility issue that needs to be rectified for when we start loading. If we can hit 90 degrees then it is more likely to be a stability issue. As we increase weight we will start to see a break in form.
The best way to start is from the floor up, just like you would building a house. You start with the foundation. We will look at ankle mobility
Ankle wall test
Start in front of a wall
Lunge down with one leg in front of another
From here we want to move our knee into the wall bending at the ankle
The heel should not lift off
Our foot should be 10cm from the wall
Checking for asymmetry between both ankles – this can lead to the knee caving in on the limiting side
Restriction within the ankle joint or tightness in gastrocs
Quadruped hip test
Start in the quadruped position. Hands below shoulders and knees at squat width. Have ankles flexed.
Maintain neutral spine and rock back into heels
If able to comfortably get depth, hips have sufficient mobility for the squat
If struggling to get hip depth use this as a warm up to get more range, aiming for 10-15 reps
Thoracic extension test
This comes into play when supporting the bar and maintaining upright position as we lower in the squat
Perform a bodyweight squat with hands crossed over chest
Then perform a bodyweight squat with arms extended above your head
If you significantly struggle with depth and form with having your arms above, thoracic extension may be impacting your squat form
One trick to help get more depth and stability is to raise the heels. This can be a good substitute in the interim to slowly build depth and mobility.
The best way to improve a squat is to squat, it is a skill just like kicking a football.