Daily Mobility Exercises by Dr. Kelly Starrett Forums Lifting Maintaining upright torso in squat- Best excercises

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    • #70827
      AvatarMathieu Coulombe

      I know this may be a very general question but I am still having difficulty maintaining a vertical torso in the squat. I am 43 been CrossFiting for 2 years. Former NPC bodybuilder so I may have created poor muscle structures and ROM a long time ago.

      Ankle test – fail at the bottom. My range in stretching is getting better. Surprisingly can almost pull off pistols on regular basis.
      Wall Squat test – fall backward almost right away.
      Hamstrings are very flexible. Rest is the problem. Lastly I am almost 6′ 1″ and only have 30″ inseam, long torso.
      So I am struggling with what is causing torso lean so early? How can I work on this and what exercises would benefit me the most? Goal is to get vertical in 2 months. Any help would be appreciated.
    • #74238
      AvatarNathan Richer

      few comments:

      1. when you squat down, where do you feel tension or tightness or restriction? these would be target areas for smashing and mobilizing.
      2. there are so many structures that could be involved.  use the air deep squat as a test.  before you smash an area, go down into air deep squat. how low can you go?  also stop before you butt wink. you may need to video yourself or use a mirror to find out.  it could also be where you lean forward.
      then smash or mob an area. retest the air deep squat again. did your squat get better/lower/etc.? if it did, then that is also an area to target for repeated smashing/mobilizing.
      3. how wide are your feet? try wider stances. you may need a wider stance to get low. some of us have pelvis/upper leg relationships that restrict our ability to get down with narrow stances.  don’t go too wide though; the problem will start to increase again as you get past your ideal width.
      4. i would pay to watch at least the Knee and Spine/Pelvis mwod webinars. the shoulder is probably a good one to watch in any case: http://www.mobilitywod.com/webinars/
      5. without more info, everything is suspect: ankles, lower leg, knee, upper leg, hips/pelvis, spine, shoulders. i would say, even your flexible hams may become an issue. they can contract to protect your body even when they are flexible and cause problems like butt winks.  work through each area one by one, test/retesting again until you find the problem areas. some areas may not be problematic.
      6. is your squat form good – are you driving your upper legs outward into external rotation and maintaining vertical shins?

      are you bracing properly when you drop down into squat? a loose torso can cause problems.
      7. there are so many squat videos on mwod. search on squat and i would go back in time where the videos are free.  if you have a pro account, then you can watch the pro videos.  if you have a copy of BSL, that will help although those aren’t live demos.  search also for a body part like ankle and see some good mobs and smashes for each area.
      if you post a video of your squat from the side and front, we can potentially diagnose better. also this can take a lot of time. not sure if 2 months is enough time but definitely work on this every day for 10-15 minutes and you may get there.  
      if you have any specific questions on the above, please post!
    • #74248
      AvatarMathieu Coulombe


      Thank you for such a detailed response. I think i need to go through the progression to see where the faults may exist. I will also upload some videos for review. I think i do a great job in the positioning and trying to create tourqe. I feel like i may need to go wider to achieve better positioning.
      First point of pain is typically the hip pocket about 3/4th way down then the lean kicks in just to keep balanced. Fall backwards every time. Could it be psoas? But feel it on the outer top of hip.
      Will work on doing some differentials in trying to determine troubled areas. Will report back.
      Thanks for the input!!
    • #74249
      AvatarNathan Richer

      Pain is a strong signal to the body to do something else, or compensate.  of course finding what causes that can be tough!

      Try going wider first – you may find that whatever is causing the pain could disappear when your femurs don’t run up against your pelvis and you give more room between your legs for your hips to drop into.

    • #75294
      Avatar[email protected]


      I was wondering how this turned out for you.  In my mind, if you can pretty much pull of pistols then ankle’s aren’t an issue..
      Any news?
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