Hips and Ham­mies and Squats - Oh My!

Mirac­u­lously im­prove your squat me­chan­ics and coun­ter­act the neg­a­tive ef­fects of sit­ting with these five sim­ple moves.

Muscle & Performance - - Contents - By Stephanie Ring, NASM-CPT, CFL-2

Have you ever watched tod­dlers play with their fa­vorite toys? You were prob­a­bly jeal­ous at the ease with which they could ex­e­cute and hold pre­fect squats — ass-to-grass, chest up, knees out and heels down. You then re­al­ize that at some point in the last 20 or 30 years, you your­self some­how lost that abil­ity.

The squat is one of the most func­tional move­ments hu­mans can per­form: We squat to pick some­thing up, we squat to sit down and we even squat to stand up. But mod­ern life with all its seden­tary ten­den­cies has al­tered our biome­chan­ics and as a re­sult our squat­ting prow­ess has suf­fered. But as they say, that which is lost can be found, and your now-im­per­fect squat can be­come per­fect once again with some ded­i­cated mo­bil­ity work tar­get­ing the ham­strings ϐ ǥ

Sit­ting is the big­gest cul­prit when it comes to steal­ing your gold-star squat fac­ul­ties. First and fore­most it lim­its your range of mo­tion by putting the ham­strings in a short­ened state for hours at a time. Then, when you go to squat, your lower back will round as the ham­strings pull the pelvis un­der — a dan­ger­ous po­si­tion for your spine when top-loaded with a bar­bell. Pro­longed ϐ shorten, and dur­ing a squat they pull your pelvis down­ward, shift­ing your weight for­ward onto your toes rather than your heels where it be­longs.

ϐ ϐ Ȅ as well as your glutes and quads for good mea­sure — putting ev­ery­thing back into bal­ance and re­jig­ging your squat me­chan­ics to once again be proper, safe and ef­fec­tive. Per­form these moves daily, breath­ing in and out through your nose slowly, and hold­ing each pose (on each side) for up to a minute.

THE MOVES Stand­ing For­ward Fold

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides. Hinge from your hips and fold for­ward, knees straight but soft. Shift your weight onto your toes and send your tail­bone up, let­ting the weight of your head and up­per body pull you lower with each breath.


Step your feet apart about three feet, right foot for­ward, with your arms at your sides and your legs straight. Press down into your right big toe and square your hips, then fold for­ward and place your hands on your right ϐ al­lows. Hold and breathe.

Ex­tended Low Lunge

Step your right foot for­ward and lower your left knee to the ground to come into a lunge, right knee over your an­kle. Tuck your tail­bone and re­lax ϐ front of your right thigh. Keep­ing your shoul­ders and hips square, reach your left arm over­head and lean to the right.


ϐ foot for­ward, knee over toes. Place ϐ right foot and ex­tend your left leg be­hind you so it’s straight with your foot up on your toes. Lower your hips down as your reach your chest for­ward and up and breathe deeply.

Twisted Mon­key

From the Lizard pose, turn the toes of your right foot out­ward slightly and let your right knee fall away from your chest. Then bend your back knee and grab your left foot with your right hand, draw­ing your left heel to­ward your left glute. Hold here and breathe deeply. Note: If you can’t grab your foot, wrap a band or strap around your an­kle and use that as a lever.

Pyra­mid pose can re­lease those tight ham­strings.

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