INSHAPE NEWS OPINION
Photo credit: 02 Max Fitness, 2008 – Squats:
Nick Jack – CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach and Personal Trainer
I am going to throw the cat amongst the pigeons here and possibly confuse you all in the beginning and tell you that Squatting is corrective exercise!
When people think of corrective exercise they think mainly of a series of isolated exercises targeting weak areas along with many stretches and mobilisation techniques. Very much assessing the body in a static position and trying to correct the biomechanical muscle imbalances.
I completely agree with this approach and do this myself in my practice where we specialise in rehabilitation and work with hundreds of severe and chronic injuries. In fact, a detailed assessment of a person’s posture, muscle length-tension across all joints and simple tests to determine the strength of known weak muscles is critical for devising a starting point. This is the most logical approach for rehabilitation and even injury prevention and sports performance. Using a biomechanical approach to defining weak muscles needing to be strengthened and tight muscles needing to be loosened. This is exactly what 90% of health practitioners, exercise physiologists and trainers will try to do.
There is one big problem with this. The body does not move in isolated segments, it moves in complex patterns of movement, and often the area in pain, or the area that is weak or tight, is often not the real cause of the problem. We are a complex system of systems stacked upon each other with each system relying on the other in order to produce great health. And in the musculoskeletal system, each joint in the body is bound by the joint above or below. The problem with the biomechanical approach is that often you can restore optimal flexibility when at a single joint, but when it has to work with all the other segments and joints it stiffens up!
In the book Vital Glutes, a good quote that summed this up is:
“When you are standing, the weak muscles show themselves; when you are lying the tight muscles show themselves.”
I see this every single day in our studio with the squat movement pattern. We can find a person has perfect flexibility across all joints, can activate their core in a lying position, but when they stand they have a terrible stiff squat movement that causes pain.
So, while the squat looked very stiff and the first instinct is they need stretching, the answer really was they needed more stability and mobility to move correctly. If the body cannot stabilise itself correctly it will find another way, and that other way is known as stiffness. This is where stretching will have little to no effect on changing the way the body has taught itself to move. Even if you improve your range of motion through the joints, the body will just return to the old method of “stiffness” the minute you stand up and begin to move for this is all it knows. What the body needs is to be taught new improved ways on how to move using this newfound flexibility. These methods need to be designed in a way that minimal stability is required, for if too much stability is required at this stage, stiffness will return.
Change How You Move
You can see now why we regard the squat as a corrective exercise. We must strive to change how we move, and show the brain how to coordinate the right message to all of the muscles and joints involved. This means we must become smarter with our programs, drills and more creative on how to assist people in learning movement. The squat is a perfect place to start.
Nick Jack is a qualified CHEK Exercise Coach, Level II Holistic Lifestyle Coach and personal trainer. He runs a personal training business called NO Regrets Personal Training.
Nick likes to lift weights, cycle, run and triathlon. He has played almost every sport at one time in his life. Now, he enjoys spending time walking his dog and relaxing with his wife and friends.
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Disclaimer: The information published in this column are based on each of the author’s own professional and personal knowledge, and opinion. This information and opinion are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.