Daily Mobility Exercises by Dr. Kelly Starrett Forums General 2 very basic questions. Initiating the squat? screwing into ground

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    • #70532
      AvatarTravis Wyant

      I have many mobility issues I need to clear up. My key areas are ankles (very tight heel chords) and hips, one is very tight with limited external rotation. I’m working on these a lot. I’m also working on my tunnel, for the squat but here are my 2 fundamental questions that I’ve bee really struggling with.


      1) when I screw my feet into the ground, keep ball of feet and big toe in contact with ground I’m getting some heat in my medial collateral ligament. should I be screwing my feet, my hips (butt is already squeezed) my whole leg, knee in a locked position, knee straight but loaded, or knee ever so slightly flexed? I get this pain a lot more on my right foot as this arch is fallen more, toes out, and this is my real problem hip.


      2) how do I actually initiate the squat? I’ve goy BSL and read it, but I’m struggling with the cueing. Should my knees feel tight / tense / loaded, or loose? I see Diane Fu ‘bumps’ her hips forward / clears the hips first. do we break at the knee first? pull the hips back whilst staying tight? pull hips back and slightly tip forward and then pull down? I’m so confused, and I thought I understood all this


      sorry for the basic nature of the questions.

    • #73001

      Not sure about 1, but for 2:

      I try and break (Consciously) at the hips first. Then as I need the movement, and as I feel my posterior stretch, I start to bend at the knee’s. I think ideally, the 2 hinges move at the same time with the right amount of tension – but I could be a bit off on this.

      The biggest cue that always helps me is to imagine, when descending into a squat, that the world is coming up beneath you, and you have to bring your legs up and sit your pelvis in between them. I got this from a think Dan John, who used the que “imagine pushing the world down with your legs”. I love queue’s like this, especially when you can start to extrapolate new queue’s of the same premise to different movements.

    • #73003
      AvatarJames Roebker

      Maybe by trying to answer #2 it will answer #1 for you. Before all this I would Reread BASL. It really is explained so well IMO.

      To initiate a squat from a standing neutral position I always try to follow this set up order.

      1. Squeeze butt 
      2. Tighten abs & pull ribcage down 
      3. Screw feet into ground- which naturally pushes knees out and slightly bends my knees. 
      4. Extend arms out and put hands together in front of face, putting shoulders into good position 
      5. Start to squat by simultaneously reaching your butt and hamstrings back and down to the floor. Maintain lumbar position.
      6. Once you are on the way down your knees will naturally start to bend once your hips/pelvis start to run into your femurs. 
      7. Keep forcing knees out and screwing into the ground with feet as you descend. 
      8. Keep Shins as vertical as possible for as long as possible. 
      9. Descend into squat 
      10. Ascend out of squat is opposite. Rinse and repeat.
      I have skipped some of the other subtleties but this is a good starting point IMHO> Hope it helps a bit.
      Cues that help are Arch>Heels>Depth>Knees out>Head up> Hands Up>
    • #73230
      AvatarKatie Hemphill

      In regards to #1, I would wonder whether this MCL heat you’re feeling is actually just an expression of crappy adductors? 

      Personally, I have always get sketchy medial knee pain when my adductors are stiff. Generally, a little medial thigh smashing helps alleviate the symptoms pretty quickly. I’ve also suggested this for a couple members at my gym who suffered similar pain, and they had some pretty astonishing results.
      It makes sense, too, as you’re seeing you have limited range of motion in the squat. Tight adductors will prevent you from being able to express good hip abduction (knees-outness), and efforts to do so will put more tension in an already overtensioned system, which may be causing your pain.
      My suggestion would be test/retest with a little set of air squats, focusing on the motor control suggestions everyone gave for your #2, with a little foam roller adductor smashing in between. You might also gain some decent ground in your squat ROM!
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