If I want my body to be as fit as it can be or to be at a certain fitness level, I need to exercise. In order to exercise efficiently and safely, I need to perform those exercise movements in the correct way. I found that my body wasn’t performing certain exercises correctly. (Sad face). What I consider to be a very basic movement of the human body, I wasn’t able to do correctly…..the SQUAT! Everyone knows what a squat is…but are you doing it correctly? There is always a proper technique for every movement and the biggest obstacle to having the proper technique is not being weak, but having the mobility.
The Pancake is a more accurate title of what my previous “squat” position was. My hip flexors and hips wouldn’t allow me to go any lower and my lower back wasn’t flexible enough to allow my torso to be more upright. My body physically couldn’t go any lower and if I looked up any further I thought I was going to fall over backwards. It was UBER frustrating.
WOW! The above pictures looks a lot like the one below…no bueno…
I’m only 24, so I’m not elderly by any means, but my body’s capabilities have definitely changed. I realized, if I don’t keep up the maintenance, this physical vessel will only become more stiff and more annoying to deal with. I see my little cousins who are in cheer and dance and they are the most flexible human beings I have EVER seen (you little contortionists, you). I know I’ll never be able to revert my body to the 6 year old noodle body they have, but I can get as close as I can. So I made a game plan to become more flexible.
Mission: Perform a squat with proper form How: 1. Pinpoint parts of the body that are tight or immobile 2. Select stretches that target those muscle groups 3. Incorporate those stretches in a 15-20 minute warm up before every workout.
Game Plan in Action
1. Muscle groups that are tight: Hips, hip flexors, lower back
2. Stretches for Hips: Deep lunge stretch, Fire hydrant circles
Stretches for Hip flexors: Kneeling hip flexor stretch
Stretches for lower back: Backbend, Overhead body weight squat
I added the stretches listed to my daily warm up routine and over a course of a few weeks, I was able to tell my squat was getting more effortless! SCORE!
Sample of my warm up routine
10 overhead squats (using broomstick,pvc pipe, anything a little light)
10 push ups
Fire Hydrant Circles (20 circles per leg, 10 in each direction)
Repeat 3 times
Deep Lunge stretch 30 seconds per side
Kneeling hip flexor stretch 30 seconds per side
Other static stretching as needed
Finish out holding the back bend for about 1 minute, break it up into 20 or 30 second intervals if needed
Some videos to help find that proper technique for you
Summary: Pick what part of your body you want to be more flexible, pick just a few stretches and implement almost every day and definitely before every work out. It takes time to change your body but it is totally worth it! Once you start seeing results you’ll be addicted to see how you can change your body.
Have these stretches helped you with your squat position? Anything else that you’ve tried that has worked wonders?
Pancake Image Source : http://blogs.dailybreeze.com/fooddrinkthink/2014/03/04/free-short-stack-on-tuesdays-national-pancake-day/