Daily Mobility Exercises by Dr. Kelly Starrett Forums General Problems with the squat…

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    • #70575
      AvatarElyse Waters


      I’ve been working on my own squatting problems = Pain in the bottom position. I started look at my hip flexion. As I move into full flexion by pulling my knee toward my chest I start getting pain at the bending point or get impinged. The same pain I get in the bottom of a squat as it’s basically the same position. I then try the same thing out, but with a band wrapped around my leg (kinda like the hip capsule mob, but on laying my back) and I still feel the same pain. I get the same pain from the regular hip capsule mob and I feel the same pain as I lay on my back and internally rotate my leg btw.
      Where do I go from here?
    • #73137
    • #73145
      AvatarElyse Waters

      Yeah, I’ve seen those and those are the mobs that are painful. The only hip flexion mob I can do is the first one here: http://www.mobilitywod.com/2011/01/episode-144-ze-hip-flexion/ Might be because my leg is outside of my body and not in front of my chest. 

      I really just want to be pain free and have full range of motion. 
    • #73142
    • #73153
      AvatarElyse Waters

      Thanks for the links. I’ll try them out and re-check the banded hip capsule mob again to check for errors. I’ll let you know. Thanks for the tips!

    • #73154
      Avatar[email protected]

      I actually felt a bit of pain in my left adductor/hip-area before when squatting, but then I started to do the internal rotation thingy when watching TV and it quickly went away. 

      I don’t remember what it’s called, but you lay on your back with knees up (feet on the ground) and put the right foot over the left knee and push it towards your right side while trying to keep your lower back on the ground.
      I actually think this is helping me alot. 
    • #73156
      AvatarElyse Waters

      Isn’t that external rotation and not internal? Even so, it feels a bit tight and sore so I’ll test it out, thanks 🙂

    • #73157
      Avatar[email protected]

      I mean the internal rotation mob. 
      It’s almost like the one in the end of this video; 

      But a bit more gentle since you’re not using a band.
    • #73166
      AvatarElyse Waters

      Ah, now I understand. I tried it and had to use a minute or so just to  get in to the position, I think I’ll stick to it. Thanks

    • #73785
      AvatarElyse Waters

      Wohoo, I finally managed to make some changes in my lower body mobility! No surprise, but it was spending some time working on my hip capsules while biasing external and internal rotation. I didn’t use a band because last time I tired that…let’s just say I ended up with a few friction burns 😛

      Is it a bad idea to just work on my hip capsules for a while? I do have some other things I need to work on because of injuries, but except for that, I thought I’d might keep my focus solely on the hip capsules.
      Last thing, no matter what I try I don’t manage to improve any ankle flexion, even temporarily…The banded ankle mob just impinges my ankle (band at the front). Ankle mob without band doesn’t impinge, but still doesn’t make any changes..whyyyy?
    • #73790

      Good to hear you are seeing improvements.
      Keep working with your hip capsule if this is an area that needs attention. Improving this will continue to improve your squat.
      Sounds like you aren’t hitting the cause of the restrictions on your ankle which is why it isn’t improving.
      Have you addressed anything up/down stream of the ankle?
      Free Your Heel, Free Your Mind
      Ankle Positional Fault Fix: Jill Miller Style
      Episode 285: Sliding Surfaces; Ankle Range of Motion Case Study Part 1
      Episode 285: Sliding Surfaces; Ankle Range of Motion Case Study Part 2
      Pro Episode # 44: The Last 25% of Your Ankle Restriction (Snatches and Pistols here we come!)
      Squat Quick Test: Is it your Ankles or Hips?
      Episode 303: Going Around The Ankle at MBSC

    • #73793
      AvatarElyse Waters

      Here’s what I know, below the hip:

      • Sliding surfaces around the ankle/heel = OK
      • Slightly tight and sore gastroc, no change after mobilization.
      • Bonesaw, I notice that the tissues are sore, but my ankle flexion doesn’t change.
      • Working on the heel (sides), super sore, still no change.
      • Ankle mob with lateral band distraction: Here I can feel the tightness (I don’t feel anything with the other banded distraction mobs, except impingement when the band is at the front), but I don’t see any difference after 2-3 min. I’m always making sure my ankle isn’t collapsed. And my knee feels like it’s about to explode in full knee flexion when doing this mob.
      • Tight adductors –  when I do the banded olympic wall squat to work on my adductors I heally have to struggle to keep my feet straight, after 5 min my adductors are shaking 😛
      • Tight, scarred down hamstring – don’t think that got anything to do with it.
      • Tight quads
      • My feet have good arches, no collapsing.
      Basically everything feels sore and slightly stiff, but I don’t see any changes after working on the different pieces. When I do the ankle wall mobilization I feel like I just hit a wall – no impingement pain – I just stop and I cant push further no matter what position.
      I’ve addressed the tightness in my gastroc, adductors, hamstrings, heel cord, quads, ant./pos. tibialis; but it wasn’t until I started working more on the hip capsules I noticed difference in the squat. (I check my ankle flexion seated by pointing my toes toward me, though.)

      I must be doing something wrong…
    • #73796
      AvatarNathan Richer

      just curious – when you do ankle dorsiflexion/ankle mobs, how far can you get your knee forward of your toes?  also have you tried doing the same mob with foot up on a stool/chair/etc.? this can alleviate your knee feeling by removing a lot of weight but still allowing you to do the movement. this can be done with/without band.

      you may also want to find a chiro/PT to release your ankles manually. they may be locked up, and most likely chronically.
      for adductors, these are my favorite smashes and mobs:
      (hmm getting weird vimeo error there, hope it clears up)

      supernova in the adductor FTW!

      all those appearances of the word “tight” kinda concern me.  might be time to take a week off and do only smashing and mobs to see if you can get all that to calm down…
    • #73800
      AvatarElyse Waters

      When I’m standing, screwing my feet into the ground and moving my knees forward I get my knees to the tip of my toes. But the lower I squat the less ankle flexion I have –  at parallell to 90 degrees I only have enough to keep my shins completely vertical.

      Ah man, I hate chiro’s! I’ll check the rest out. Thanks 
    • #73802
      AvatarNathan Richer

      ha yeah i hate docs of any sort. not all chiros are bad but make sure you find a good one who isn’t just your yellow pages chiro but someone who is also a trained PT or sports med person.

      to be honest, how you evaluated your ankle range isn’t the best. usually it’s done one ankle at a time and kneeling down on one knee, other leg up, and with a pole held vertically against the inside edge of your foot to prevent your knee from drifting in. you then shift forward to demonstrate your ankle DF range, while moving the knee to the outside of the pole which prevents the arch from collapsing.  if you have good form, you probably can do this without the pole.  also you must keep your heel on the ground as well.
      you can also put your foot up on a bench/stool and then lean forward. i often do ankle DFs that way because it’s more convenient. you can also distract with a band there too. putting it up on a stool/bench will also impart less pressure on the knee which may be good in some cases.
      so if you measure ankle range this way, how far can you get your knee forward of your foot? if you can get your knee past your toes, likely you have enough range for now and it could be something else upstream that is causing problems.
      another thing to try from another thread. roop turned me on to this. before you descend, organize yourself. get in good posture position and brace 20% in the torso and in the glutes – glutes is important to tilt your pelvis posteriorly to neutral. this will also give you space to descend into or else you’ll be pre-disposing yourself to run up against the pelvis with the femurs. then with everything tight, screw your legs outward into ext rotation and descend. if you do your squat this way, is it better or worse?
    • #73803
      AvatarElyse Waters

      Yeah, lots of bad chiro’s out there. My last one never listened to me; I think he only heard bla bla bla, even when I tried to tell him that the last time he cracked my lower back the pain was so intense I barely managed to get home.

      Back to ankle DF: When I measure it I’m at ca 3 cm knee over toes at the left leg and 2 at the right. When I try to squat unbraced I get lower than braced, same with ankle DF.

      Also worth mentioning; I have tendinosis at the front of my right hip from 5 years ago; still sore at end range hip extension. And I have some tacked down scar tissue in my left high hammy – working on it.

    • #73804
      AvatarNathan Richer

      re: squat bracing vs. unbraced

      probably the lower descent is because you totally relaxed and i’m guessing your posture isn’t great although you could relax and get lower.
      re: ankle DF
      at the expense of making this thread go too long 😉 – are you familiar with test/retest? in the case of ankle DF, it’s always a bit of detective work to figure out what is really wrong. so you would start looking up and down stream for the next thing to try to mob or smash or both.  have you done this with your ankle yet? pick something else to smash – feet, heel cord, calf, posterior tib, anterior tib, around the bottom of inside of ankle bone – pick only one, smash it a bit for the requisite amt of time ie. 2 min, then test your ankle DF again. any difference? pick another one – smash, test, repeat. 
    • #73810
      AvatarElyse Waters

      Braced squat:

      The problem is most likely the inability to create enough external rotation torque at the start (screwing feet into ground) due to stiff adductors and tight hip capsules.
      Ankle DF:
      Yeah, that’s what I’ve tried the last months. The test/retest has been sitting on the ground pointing my toes toward me to see the difference between the leg I have mobilized and the leg I haven’t mobilized. So far, no difference. But if I can move my knee 1 inch past my toes in a kneeling position, and can only keep my chins vertical during squat, it’s probably something else. I probably have enough DF to do squats, but maybe not pistols (and that’s not the goal yet) 😛
      The thread is so long because I didn’t bother to create a new one on the (almost) same topic – just continued on the old one. 😉
      The Plan – Lower body:
      Priority 1: Hip Capsules
      Priority 2: Adductor 
      Priority 3: High hammy
      I’m stressing this a bit now because I know if I don’t make any changes I’ll just say “to hell with it” and do whatever I want to increase strength – even at the cost of bad form. Last time I did that, though not knowing how bad my mobility was, I ended up with knee pain, hip pain, shoulder pain and elbow pain; but only in the right side. Not the smartest thing…
    • #73811
      AvatarNathan Richer

      i wouldn’t test/retest on ground but rather putting foot on ground and moving the knee past foot relatively unloaded. there is only so much you pull your foot back with your muscles tensing. i can get more DF when i relax and gently move the knee over the foot in either of those positions versus trying to flex the foot back.

      otherwise, good luck with the rest. it can take an annoyingly long period of time to see changes!
    • #73812
      Avatar[email protected]

      David, so you are saying if you can get your knee past your toes then that is enough ROM for the squat? Interesting.

      I think the only thing most people are behind schedule on is the smashing.  I think that is the hardest part because in reality the only way to smash is to have a super friend and those are hard to come by.  If I get my girlfriend to put pressure on me with the super nova on my quad I receive a much more intensive pressure that is much more worth my time.  It seems as though your own body weight is only enough for basic maintenance.  To get past major restrictions you need someone else working on you.  
      Banded work for internal and external rotation only works so far because I can feel the muscle stiffness more so then capsule restriction.  I really can’t come past the idea that banded distractions are more important then smashing.  I think it is the opposite.  
    • #73814
      AvatarNathan Richer

      re: ankle ROM

      i think that in order to get into the deep squat, you must be able to get your knee past your toes in the kneeling ankle DF exercise or propped up on a stool, relatively unloaded.  the more the better, without your heel coming up.  if you can’t, this indicates a bunch of restrictions that the body will have to deal with as you try to attain the bottom position. some restriction may be in the ankle itself, but it may also be the symptom of many other restrictions both up and down stream. any/all of those restrictions will more than likely hinder your deep squat. like the deep squat, i think you can think of the ankle DF as a test also.
      that doesn’t mean you can’t squat (the exercise) at all. most people say a good enough squat is just to horizontal quads or just below.  doing heavy squats down to the very bottom every time is a demanding movement in many aspects. worthy goal though.
      re: banded distractions and smashes
      i think they are not necessarily better than one another. both have their role.  sometimes restrictions are dealt with via distractions, and some need more work like smashing in order to make a mob work better. depending on your situation, you may need some smashing to help get rid of restrictions so mobs do their job. mobs can also reveal where you should smash as well, as you find corners you can analyze those corners and smash appropriately. corner work is a form of restriction removal – oscillation and bending the paper clip, etc.
    • #74225
      AvatarElyse Waters

      My manual therapist thinks I have a hip labral tear…. gonna get an injection of cortisone and local anesthetic into the hip joint to figure out if the problem lies within the joint or outside. Yeah, this year is gonna be a blast!

      But to think of this in a positive way: I’ve had this problem for about 5 years, taken 5 MRI, seen 3 PTs, 3 chiro’s and a couple of doctors, so solving this problem, even by surgery, would be a good thing. And if not, it’s gonna be good upper body training at the first stage of rehab since I live on the 5th floor without any elevator…
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