How A Correct Squat Can Help You Prevent Injuries
Many athletes constantly suffer from injuries. While sometimes these injuries are caused by sports accidents involving heavy impacts, often they are related to improper body movements during exercise, which put excessive strain on the body. Not only does incorrect movement during exercise hurt your body, but incorrect movement during any type of activity you engage in throughout your day can be harmful as well. Maintaining a healthy diet, getting ample sleep and regularly exercising are all important to stay in good shape, but these are not enough to become your best, fittest and healthiest self. Knowing how to correctly move your body is crucial to prevent injuries and live a pain-free life. Especially if you often engage in very intense exercise, it is important to learn how to use your body in the correct way and to minimize the strain put on your joints, muscles and tendons. But even if you aren’t into sports, any movements that you perform during the day, for example while sitting at your desk at work can leave your body in a very bad state if you aren’t moving correctly.
Pain Affects Your Overall Quality of Life
If you regularly engage in exercise that leaves you with a constant lower back pain or come home from work with a sore neck every day, this will affect your overall quality of life. You won’t be able to sleep properly, you might be in a bad mood if the pain doesn’t go away and might not be able to play sports as you once did. All of this will wreak havoc on your physical and mental health. Eventually, small discomforts can turn into serious injuries that might require surgery or become chronic conditions. If you are constantly hurting, you need to take action. Just as you stop eating candy or start better brushing your teeth when you are having oral health problems, a badly functioning body also needs to be treated. The earlier you take action, the easier it will be to repair your body and have it function at 100 percent again. Let’s look at a key body movement that most humans perform daily, which can leave the body impaired if consistently performed incorrectly.
Get Your Squat Right
A squat isn’t just an exercise that is performed by gym-goers, it is actually a basic human movement that each of us performs, in a way, many times each and every day. Every time you sit down and stand up from your sofa, desk chair or toilet, you are performing a type of squat. If you carry out this movement incorrectly, your body will warn you about this through a pain signal. It might take a lot of incorrect squatting movements for you to become aware of the pain, but eventually the pain will become more intense, especially if you often carry out bad form squat movements during high intensity exercise.
If you can’t perform a proper squat, this indicates that you either don’t know how to do a squat correctly, or that you just lack the range of motion in certain parts of your body to perform a good squat.
Learning how to squat correctly is important for many movements you perform during everyday life, as well as for just about any type of sport. Anytime you perform a squat movement, whether it be at the gym or when picking up your bowling ball, you need to execute the squat movement using correct form in order not to excessively strain your body.
To squat correctly, you need to make sure you start off in the right position, with a neutral spine and your feet more or less straight, positioned just outside your shoulders. Keep your body weight centered over the middle of your feet. You use your feet to create stability by sort of screwing them into the ground, pushing them outward, your left foot to the left and your right one to the right, while keeping them in their straight position. Squeeze your glutes and tighten your abs. Keep your ears over your shoulders and look forward. Lift your arms up to about chest level and make sure your shoulders are pulled back. Slightly rotate your hands externally. Now you start lowering yourself, keeping your arms in front of you and your back flat, driving your knees sideways. Try to keep your shins vertical and don’t overextend your lumbar spine. Once you go further down into your squat, you’ll start to become aware of any issues with range of motion you might have. Keep going down pushing your knees outward while holding your abs tight, back flat and shins vertical. You want to drop your hip below your knee, but if this is not possible without compromising your form, you shouldn’t try to force it. It is better to perform a higher squat correctly than to sink lower down with bad form. Come out of the squat the same way you sank down into it, keeping proper form.
Regularly performing a squat will help you determine whether your body is in good shape or if you need to work on your mobility. Anyone should be able to perform a basic squat for at least ten minutes without compromising form. If you can’t perform a correct squat, you’ll have to work on the parts of your body that are lacking range of motion. Determining what these are can be quite difficult and you might want to consult with a physical therapist about this. Daily stretching and mobilization exercises can help you improve your body’s range of motion and consequently enhance your performance and prevent injuries.
What If Your Pain Doesn’t Go Away?
If you are suffering from severe pain in your feet, ankles, shoulders, elbows or knees that isn’t being resolved by moving correctly and performing the right mobilization and stretching exercises, you may need to see an orthopedic surgeon for a thorough diagnosis of your injury.
Matthew Boes, M.D. has years of experience treating sports related injuries. He loves playing sports himself and knows the feeling of not being able to properly play the sport you are passionate about due to injury. Contact Dr. Matthew Boes today for more advice on injury prevention or to schedule an appointment to diagnose your injury.