The depth of a person’s squat has been highly debated within the rehab and performance realms. This debate has been ongoing for years and we also see similar debates on other topics on the squat such as foot width and position. If exercise in itself was designed to have so many rules, why isn’t there a universal position used by everyone?
The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all model to the squat. Due to anatomical variations some people can’t squat without pointing their toes out, or they will have difficulty squatting “ass to grass” regardless of how much mobility work they do. This post is designed to highlight this so you can make decisions to better serve yourself, or your clients.
There are many joint variances somebody may have, let’s look at the hips alone.
Differences in the femoral neck angles.
The orientation of the hip sockets (the acetabulum).
Length of the femur.
Torsions of the femur.
Yes, there are more.
Below is an example of a femoral torsion. This is an actual anatomical variance where the femurs can be twisted inwards or outwards and can be caused at birth or by repetitive loading in a particular direction.
In the image above you are looking at two femurs (upper leg bone) that are positioned in the exact same way. As you can see, the heads of the femurs point in different directions.
These anatomical variations make it impossible for both of these individuals to squat the same way. Because of this, foot position and stance width need to be optimized for each individual.
Great, now that you understand this you can stop blaming your tight psoas, and now blame your bony anatomy for the reason you can’t squat!
This post was designed to provide awareness that bony anatomy should be taken into consideration when selecting exercises for clients.
We still need to make sure that we are improving someone’s mobility, stability, strength, and work capacity based on their goals, but we must be aware of potential limitations that can have an impact on the way our clients move.
As a final point, don’t force someone into a particular type of “squat pattern”. Squatting as we see it in the gym is a man-made movement pattern, and as with all rules, there are exceptions to them. Give your client the best chance to succeed on day one, while working on giving them the tools necessary to own their body. That my friend is successful coaching!