By now you should be seeing some good improvements in your flexibility and movement. Your calves used to be tight from wearing high heels, your backside used to be weak from all those hours spent sitting on it with the only exercise you get some weeks being running after the neighborhood ice cream truck. (I hope no one was running after the ice cream truck in high heels!) If you’ve been putting in the work recommended in the previous 2 blogs in this series it’s hard not to see change.
If you are now able to wall slide squat down far enough that your thighs are parallel to the ground and you can get your knees caps to the wall with your toes 4 inches away, but still find you have a hard time keeping your heels on the ground while you squat then let take a look at your knees. Knee and hip replacement surgeries are the most common joints in the body to be replaced due to pain caused by wear and tear in the joints, not surprising since if your shoulder hurt when you throw, most of us just stop throwing. If your knees hurt when your bend over or take the stairs, you can try to take the elevator when possible, but mostly we keep walking and just deal with the pain.
Let’s try another test. Can you kneel with your shins on the ground and then sit your backside down to your heels? If not, let’s figure out why. If you have knee pain or joint pain elsewhere I highly recommend you consult a chiropractor who specializes in lower extremity complaints or a physical therapist who does. For anyone that just feels tight on top of their thighs or gets Charlie horses anywhere in their legs or feet let’s get to work. Your quads are tight and it’s true that can cause difficulty squatting as well as joint wear and tear, but it can also be corrected.
Let’s get out our foam rollers again and roll those quads out for at least 2 minutes making sure to rock side to side and roll from the crease in your hip down to just above your knee cap so you get all 4 heads of the muscle. (Still not sure where to roll? That’s OK! Just Google it. Look at you learning new stuff!) If you don’t have a foam roller, or “The Stick”, a good old rolling pin works fine. Remember you’re massaging the muscle not making pie crust so don’t try to press so hard your quad gets a thin flaky crust!
Now if you have a several inches or more between your backside and heels just lie on your back and grab the shin of one leg and gently pull your knee up to your chest. For added comfort you can loop a towel around your shin and just hang on to the ends like reins. Alternate between legs for 3+ sets holding for 10 deep breaths daily until your heel can touch your back pocket. If you don’t have knee pain and want to get there a little quicker just practice kneeling and let your body weight and gravity do most of the work for you. If you know you have a little knee arthritis, if kneeling bothers you, try this alternate stretch. Stand holding onto a door frame, counter, or other sturdy surface with one hand and bring your foot up behind your back side as far as you can using your leg muscles while your reach down with your free hand and grab a hold of your foot with your free hand. Pull your heel toward your backside while squeezing both butt cheeks and trying to keep your thigh perpendicular to the floor.
Work on this progression daily until next time and we’ll tie everything together and test how deep you can squat.
by Chris Dockter DC, CCEP