The Five Pillars of the Squat - Iron Health Physical Therapy & Cryotherapy
Joseph Rendina

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The Five Pillars of the Squat

 One of the biggest limiters in the squat is ankle mobility! Restrictions in the ankle joint can prevent proper forward knee travel, forcing the torso to bend forward and hips to shift backwards in order to keep the weight over the middle of the foot. Ensuring we have proper dorsiflexion can allow for an upright torso, improve quad and anterior chain muscle recruitment, and reduce the demands on the low back during squatting. 

  • A common knee fault during the squat is inward knee travel.

 Three things come to mind when we see this.

1. Weak hips: By weak hips I mean weak gluteal muscles. Having inadequate gluteal strength can lead to poor stabilization of the femur which may lead the hip into adduction & internal rotation. 

2. Tight ankles: Limited ankle mobility prevents the knee to tract forward. Sometimes this may cause the foot to pronate and forcing the tibia to internally rotate. 

3. Impaired quad function: Inadequate VMO strength can lead to poor knee stabilization! Which may lead to knee valgus. 

  • A common hip fault in the squat is a lack of flexion and rotation of the hips.

If you want any chance of squatting below parallel with some weight on your back you will need about 110-125 degrees of flexion. Achieving a full depth squat with anything LESS than the full range of motion at the hip will require you to compromise somewhere else! Your body will adapt... it will rob stability from one joint to provide mobility to another.

  • A common fault regarding the spine and core is improper bracing before the descent phase of the squat.

Placing an external load on our body places a higher demand on our body to stabilize our trunk. The quality of the barbell back squat is dictated by how we maintain our trunk through out the movement. A great cue is thinking about getting punched in the stomach & pushing again our stomach. This will allow an adequate pressure against the core to stabilize the trunk throughout the squat. 

  • The final fault seen in the squat is improper initiation of the squat itself. 


Let's build your squat from the bottom up! In the playlist below we break down, joint by joint, some of the biggest limiters for having a functional squat that allows us to maintain the safest positions while lifting the greatest loads.

Disclaimer: If you continue to experience unbearable, reoccurring pain, be sure to schedule an appointment with your physician or join our physical therapy family and allow us to help you regain function.

Iron Health is located in Briarcliff Manor and the greater Westchester NY area; our neighboring towns include Chappaqua, Mount Kisco, Tarrytown, Irvington and Pleasantville. If you have any questions, fill out a Discovery Session form and we will contact you as soon as possible. OR If you have any questions, fill out a short form by clicking the button below and we will contact you as soon as possible.

John Ribeiro

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