Squatting should be pain-free. It’s one of our natural movement patterns that our body is designed to do over and over again.
But as modern humans, we do a great job of screwing up our bodies. Between sitting for a majority of the day and repeatedly doing the same things over and over again, our hips have a tendency to tighten up. In some cases, it may become challenging to squat with perfect form and worse, you may experiencing pinching or pain as you lower into a Squat.
If you’re putting hundreds of pounds on your back, the last thing you want is to worry about pain when you need to be focused your technique.
According to Dr. Matt Stevens, physical therapist and owner of Pure Physio (Strongsville, Ohio), pain or discomfort during squatting is typically the result of poor internal rotation and/or hip extension. If you’re not familiar, internal rotation is when your thigh bone (femur) rotates inward, which occurs as you lower into a Squat. Hip extension simply refers to straighten your hips as you stand up out of a Squat.
To improve hip internal rotation and extension, Stevens recommends the two exercises demonstrated in the video above. Permanently fixing the problems takes time, but regularly adding these two exercises to your warm-up or general stretch routine should eventually improve your mobility and help you squat pain-free.
Half-Kneeling Banded Hip Flexor Stretch
This stretch works on the psoas and other hip flexors muscles, which are often tight from sitting. The band wrapped around your leg helps to pull you into the stretch to increase the effectiveness of the stretch.
How to: Attach a resistance band to a post in front of you. Kneel with your left leg on the ground and wrap the band around your thigh just below your butt. Make sure there’s tension on the band. Keeping your core tight and back straight, sit forward into the half-kneeling position until you feel a stretch through the front of your left hip. Hold this position for the specified duration.
Sets/Duration: 1-2×20-30 sec. each leg
90-90 Hip Rotations
This mobility drill rotates your hip joints through a full range of motion. However, the focus is on your top hip, or the leg that’s internally rotated (the inside of your leg is facing the ground), which makes it an excellent option to include in a warm-up in preparation for squatting.
How to: Sit on the ground with your back straight and arms straight in front of your shoulder. Bend your knees to a 90-degree angle. Rotate your legs toward the ground to your right. You should ideally be able to touch your knees to the ground but stop if you feel pain or a pinching sensation. If you have difficulty maintaining an upright torso, feel free to place your hands on the ground behind to support your body.
Sets/Reps: 1×15-20 each side