Motor Control When Squatting
When warming up to squat every day, envision yourself under the load of a heavy bar. This will help think about the parts of body that need to be active, the positions you need to focus on, and the stability to be in the best positions even during your warm-up sets.
When performing a squat, think about these things:
1) Maintain a tight core to keep from any low back rounding. This should be a concentration point at all parts of the squat, but especially when reaching the bottom position.
2) Track the knees out over the toes and keep the full foot on the ground driving through the mid-foot. This allows for stability, natural movement and proper muscle engagement.
3) Keep the chest up and keep it constantly driving upward. Keeping our t-spine and scaps engaged will keep the chest up and prevent rounding in the upper back.
When you see an athlete lose tension in the bottom of the squat, you may hear some people call the loss of tension a “butt wink.” What they are referring to here is posterior pelvic tilt. This is when your hips get turned under your body. It can be caused by a lack of mobility in the ankles, hips, and/or loss of motor control. Lets focus on loss of motor control assuming you have ideal range of motion in your hips and ankles.
When an athlete lacks proper activation and engagement of their midline, it is common for them to lose their neutral posture. Squatting with tension through the midline might not allow us to reach as far below parallel as we normally would, but keeping this area tight and going a little shallower in the squat will ultimately create a better position. I would suggest staying at the depth to which you can maintain perfect mechanics and slowly progress lower over time as you learn to control your positioning.
We can also practice this motor control and tension in the midline when sitting to go to the bathroom or sitting at our desk at work. A quick way to tell if you are keeping a tight core when squatting is to put a thumb at your sternum and a thumb at your waistline. Perform a squat and if your hands move closer to one another, know that you have lost tension. The same goes for the other direction; if our hands move further apart, we are over-extended.
The best sitting or squatting technique is just before we squat to a chair, brace your midline, squeeze your butt, make sure to put tension in your hips by screwing your feet into the floor, press your knees out and slowly lower so your butt to below parallel. Imagine box squatting and keep tension in your midline and try not to over-extend by pulling your chest back. Keep you shoulders back and down, and do not lose tension.