The squat is a lower body compound movement that targets muscles of the hip, knee, and ankle joints. This movement is highly functional and develops lower body strength and trunk stability and improves breathing coordination. Due to its numerous benefits, the squat is an ideal exercise to include in rehab or generalized programming and can be easily adapted to suit a variety of levels.
Due to the variability in anatomical differences, mobility restrictions, and muscle flexibility, this exercise may look different from person to person. Therefore, it is important to use this resource as a general guide; however, a physiotherapist will be able to ensure the exercise is properly and safely executed.
Starting Position: Stand with feet spaced hip distance apart, feet positioned symmetrically. Hands may be placed on hips, arms outstretched, crossed in front of chest, etc.
Action: Bend at the knees and hips at the same rate as though you are sitting in a chair. During the movement, ensure the knees maintain their alignment between the ankles and hips. Maintain the alignment of your back throughout the movement. Make sure the feet stay grounded, do not allow heels to lift off the ground. Lower until 90° bend at knees is achieved. It is normal to bend your trunk forward as you lower your hips (as pictured). Return to starting position.
Common Mistakes to Avoid:
- Arching or rounding of the back during the movement
- Pushing the hips forward at the top of the movement by squeezing the glutes and “locking” into extension
- Lifting the heels off the ground to compensate for lack of range of motion
- Feet sliding outwards while lowering during the movement
- Knees collapsing towards the middle
- Flexing or extending at the knees and hips at different speeds (this causes the movement to become uncoordinated)
Based on your individual goals, the parameters for exercise can vary significantly. The number of sets, repetitions and tempo are among a number of variables that can be modified in order to optimize your programming. Whether you are returning from injury, looking to get stronger, or improving your sport performance, speak to your physiotherapist to establish your training goals.
Modifications and Progressions:
- Please refer to your physiotherapist if you are unsure of any aspect of the exercise or are unable to successfully perform the exercise
- Feet do not need to be straight, but maintain symmetry if they are rotated outwards
- Movement can be performed at different feet spacing (i.e. shoulder width)
- Exercise can be practiced by standing to sitting from a chair
- Option to add weight to increase intensity of exercise
- Progressions can be made to emphasize power, endurance, etc. Speak to your physiotherapist to determine what is appropriate for you
Fig 1. Front view start position
Fig 2. Front view end position
Fig 3. Side view end position