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One Squat Does Not Fit All

Hi everyone, I’m Erienne from Peak Endurance Physical Therapy. I wanted to talk to you guys about squat stance and how one squat does not fit all.

Typically when we get instructed on a squat, we get the generalized setup instructions: feet hip-width apart, point your toes slightly out to the side, try to keep your chest up at the bottom, but what we need to understand is that one squat does not necessarily fit all and there’s no one correct way to squat.

If we take 10 experienced squatters, we should see 10 slightly different squat setups and squat stances. This is because it’s very dependent on the person. It’s dependent on their anatomy, as well as their mobility and anatomy is something you can’t change – it’s how you’re born. Mobility we can typically work on by giving some exercises to try to improve mobility.

What I want to focus on today are three different anatomy pieces (things that we cannot change) that impact how we squat:

  1.  Femur length: how long your thigh bone is. If your thigh bone is long compared to the rest of your body, you will likely have a more pitched forward position at the bottom of your squat. It may seem like you’re letting your chest drop but that’s not the case. Your chest is coming forward to counterbalance those long femurs. Sometimes people with long femurs also do a little bit better with a wider stance.
  2. Hip socket orientation: Some of our hip sockets are faced a little bit more forward, and some a little bit more out to the side. If your hip sockets are pointed more forward, you might do a little bit better with a more narrow stance. If your hip sockets are out to the side a little bit more, you might do a little bit better with a more wide stance when squatting.
  3. Femur torsion: how your thigh bone is twisted. We each have a little bit of torsion in our femur; some are forward some are twisted backwards. If your femur is a little bit more twisted forward, he might do better with a more toe-forward stance, but if you have a little bit of a backwards twist in your femur, you might do a little bit better with a more toe-out stance when you squat.

Any combination of these three anatomical differences will result in a slightly different optimal squat stance compared to your peer. My suggestion would be to play with your squat stance whether you play with a little bit more narrow basis support and play with a little wider base of support. You can try toe-in versus toe-out. The squat stance that fits your anatomy will likely be the one that feels the most free flowing and has the smoothest movement to it. Once you feel like you found that optimal squat stands for you, don’t forget to load that squat up.

Here at Peak Endurance Performance & Physical Therapy we help active adults in the Madison Area get back to the activities they love without pain or limitations. We see people of all ages, ability levels, and individuals trying to get back to a multitude of movements including: getting back into running, women postpartum, CrossFit athletes, climbers, gymnasts, wrestlers, overhead athletes, and your recreational weekend warrior. If you’re looking to get back to the activities that give you meaning, relieve stress, and make you feel like you again, feel free to reach out below and we’ll see if we’re the right fit for you.