Getting off the toilet or standing up from a chair is all stems from the basic squat movement, however many people struggle to keep the correct form or get to appropriate depth when squatting during WOD’s. This is usually due to restrictions in two main areas:
A quick way to tell which area needs the most attention is to drop into a foot forward air squat and push one leg out in front into pistol. If you fall on your butt straight away it is likely to be an ankle issue that is causing the problems, if you can hold pistol it is likely to be the hip. A video demo can be seen here Squat – Hip or Ankle issue?
So the best way to improve this is to mobilise in the area of restriction What does this mean? Well if we are struggling in the bottom squat position, then lets get into the bottom squat position and mobilise the bits that are restricting us. So we will start with the ankles.
Using a resistance band wrapped around a pole put both legs in, apply tension and sit down into the perfect squat (knees out, feet parallel) letting the band support you. Now spend 2 mins exploring the sticky (read restrictive) parts of the foot position on each leg. The knee should be tracking outside of the foot and ideally also in front of the foot whilst keeping the heal on the floor. If you have a super friend get them to apply pressure on your shoulders or if you don’t, use a weighted vest. See Bad Ankle = Bad Squat for the low down.
Next we want to make sure that we can hold the perfect squat position, and so similar to the mob we have just done, we sit in perfect squat in the band with weight on the shoulders and hunt around for areas of restrictions in the hips. See Perfect Squat Practice. Spend time in this position, with an upright torso and try and accumulate 10 mins in a session. This is also a fantastic mob to identify stick points in the hips and get after them with a mob ball after to smash the tissues and increase mobility.
As a finisher, we want to make sure that the hips are fully open, so we drop into the couch stretch – a CFN favourite! Using the contract release method accumulate 2 mins each leg in each position, so 8 mins in total. When starting off this can feel like torture and you may need to work to 10 secs on 10 secs off, however stick with it and you will see massive improvements in a short space of time.
Today we did an adaptation of this by using a band to create distraction within the hip joint, which adds another dimension to the traditional couch stretch. See Squat Mob 101 for details.
Build these mobs (and others that work for you) into your warm up routine, not only are they essential for CrossFit, but also for day to day life.