Tony Riddle of Gloves Boxing Club recently put together a series of 3 videos to explain his secret to squat success. It was in response to a topic that seems to be a popular point of discussion at the moment.
I didn’t want the series to be lost in the facebook ether and so asked Tony if he would mind if I collected them together and linked to them.
From now on all the commentary is from Tony and well worth a look.
Since reading yet another blog about the squat, advising people on squatting for long periods of time without any prep and seeing another facebook post of someone performing yet another squat; I have decided to give you my secret to squat success before the squat starts getting a bad rep!
For anyone that has been coached by me, this will be teaching some of you to either suck eggs or serve as a gentle reminder to get prepping. The plantar surface of your foot is your foundation, therefore it deserves more respect than just holding a mindless squat for X amount of minutes.
I am learning to stand on my hands, which involves hours of work to understand my bodyweight in my hands and with a big thanks to Ido Portal, I have been given numerous hand and wrist prep drills to perform this task. With out this prep, I would never be able to hold the position, even up against the wall , any slight change I make in my base of support (which could be lifting my little finger) can have a huge effect on my position and often results in me frustratingly bailing out.
So when you consider this, you have to respect the loading points and balance points of the foot too. If you perform a squat for 30 mins a day with a collapsed ankle and no understanding of your base of support, You are building the leaning tower of Pisa.
Janet G Travell, one of the main contributors to trigger point therapy, also studied Dudley Morton’s Evolution of the Human Foot, not only studied it , she applied it to her work and had related a large portion of the 620 trigger points in the human body came down the inappropriate loading of the foot.
A podiatrists yacht in the making:
Your foot is a very intelligent design, in fact it’s a really complex piece of engineering, You have specific loading points that can cope with four times your own body weight, this Dudley Morton referred to as a leverage line and the leverage line falls between the 1st and 2nd met-heads. If you could imagine you had units of bodyweight under each foot. Use a mental picture of squares, a large proportion of those units should be where the ball of the foot and big toe are, the rest would be divided up over the 3rd, 4th and 5th met-heads and the the heel.
The greater the perception of these areas the healthier the movement pattern.
All techniques not just the squat are effected without the knowledge of this foundation, culprits and victims model, joint by joint approach, what ever you wanna to call it, this to me is the biggest culprit of all and makes you the biggest victim!
So if two clients came through my door:
Client number one; sits for 80% of their day, poor foot mechanics.
Client number two; sits for 80% of his day, but has been barefoot foot all his life.
Who will perform the squat best?
The answer: Everyone should have the hard wiring to squat correctly, we have all made software changes to adapt to our new environment. Someone that sits down for 80% of their day and has worn winkle pickers all their life would take a longer transitioning period to the squat than someone that sits for say 80% of their day, but has been fortunate enough to be barefoot all their life. The base of support will still be effected, because of the weight of the human head, but they would have a wider base of which to load all the other segments.(Segmental alignment)
Putting First things First and getting your house in order:
Here is part 1 in a series of foot and ankle prep drills I use and would have these prepped with all my clients before encouraging the squat. The same as I use hand and wrist prep drills for the hand stand. I often refer to them as to-ega or anti-bunion drills and will expect these to be carried out throughout the day.
Seriously, as much effort and thought should be applied to this before the squat, if not your house of straw will be on the floor with one yoga breath from the big bad wolf.
Pole ski -Part deux in the toe and ankle prep
You will need to purchase three broom handles, Don’t panic they are around £1 each and far, far cheaper than £300 orthotics and one of the wisest investments you can make for healthy movement.
The next pearl in the squat series is to get you away from the current notion that squatting should be carried out with bodyweight back in the heel. The heel should be on the ground, but minimal bodyweight and should not be a position of load.
Apologies to any Personal Trainers out there, but you really need to use common sense on this one. Squatting with weight in the heel and squeezing your glutes as tight as you can is something we adopted from a bodybuilding culture and doesn’t exist in Traditional weight lifting and certainly not in the young or natural. If you were meant to load the heel in the squat then olympic lifting shoes wouldn’t have a solid block of wood behind the heel to force your weight forward onto the ball of the foot and big toe. If anything the wedge would be at the front!
The 1st Met head is 4 times denser than all other Met heads and can load up to four times your bodyweight, so why on earth would you load the heel in the squat. Oh, I remember, it’s because it creates lot’s of inappropriate muscle action to try to keep you from falling on your arse and will give you great big quads and gluteus, and now you have learnt a faulty movement pattern which will inhibit you in future rest and locomotion. That’s not to mention the ankle joint being compromised with weight back there. The ankle joint can collapse, this would then result in the knee and then hip joints having to compromise and there we have the victims and culprits model or joint by joint approach.
Try and jump from a height and land in a squat on a hard surface on your heel and you will soon identify the complexity of the bio mechanical squat.
Most clients I see are already compromised in the ankle joint and require a raise behind the heel. I will use a solid object as the majority of times the ankle can drop out within one hour. Remembering that we all have the hardware to squat, we more than often just need to trick the software.
The three broom handles are designed to do just this. The first phase of the clip is to be carried out until you can complete 5 mins for three attempts per day. Once you have conditioned the ankle joint to squat with the weight between the 1st and 2nd Met heads with the heel raised you can remove the pole from behind the heel. If required, use the two poles as an anterior support, remembering that the heel should have minimal load. The objective here is to separate the axis of leverage and Balance points and take out any sagittal blockade in the ankle joint.
This is not only a game changer for the squat; this drill will have you locating the ball of the foot and the great toe in no time.
The final part in the trilogy.
The magazine drop:
For those that have followed stages one and two and are looking to perform a flat footed squat, then you are ready for the magazine drop.
This came to me through one of those lightbulb moments when a young dancer came in and had difficulty with ankle mobility. Yep a dancer with ankle mobility issues, had been around the BS circuit and told her achilles was too short, well within 1 hour she could get the heel to the floor quite comfortably.
If you can squat with a block behind your heel, then it isn’t the ankle that is the problem, it is your mind that needs the support within the movement. If you don’t understand support you will go in search of it, resulting in inappropriate muscle action and tension. The ankle joint will not open up with a tense mind.
Simply provide the support with the magazines, choose ones that you like to read as I would recommend spending 5 to 10 mins playing around with this one. Start with the magazines a good inch high and then slide the magazines away the moment you settle back into a state of relaxation. You have the magazine to send you elsewhere and the time will soon fly by.
Tony Riddle is the founder of the Gloves Boxing Club. Read more about Tony here.