Is your desk job limiting your hip mobility? Or even worse is your hip mobility limiting the depth of your squat?
There is an abundance of research out there saying that sitting time is one of the largest negative contributors to our health. But how is your sitting time affecting your ability to perform a deep squat?
Squatting is a fundamental movement that every unimpaired individual should be able to perform. When analysing the movement of the squat from a biomechanical standpoint it is a highly complex movement which has taken off in popularity in recent years. Pop fitness culture has exploited this booty building exercise with insta-famous fitspo personalities taking to their various social media platforms and championing the movement with cues such as ‘ass to grass’. To the everyday desk jockey this complex ‘ass to grass’ movement is not going to come naturally, as one of the critical aspects of a deep squat is adequate hip mobility. In order to produce a technically safe and sound squat several joint and muscular systems must work in synchronisation, and this is especially important when adding external load such as a barbell.
Tight hip flexors commonly cause reduced hip mobility and are commonly seen in office workers who go to the gym. Tight hip flexors may limit your ability to perform a deep squat due to pain or stiffness i.e. reduced range of motion. Hip flexor tightness is not always the result of activity or overuse, but more often the result of prolonged sitting. While squatting can be a highly therapeutic exercise in terms of restoring gluteal activation and help mobilise the front of the hips, when performed with poor technique it can be potentially harmful resulting in dangerous compensation patterns.
The prime movers in hip flexion are the Rectus Femoris (one of the four quadricep muscles) and Sartorius, along with Iliopsoas which is a deep muscle of the hip.
A good indication of having tight hip flexors is having the tendency to lean forward while deep squatting. This forward leaning posture will shift your centre of gravity forwards, causing your pelvis to be tilted at the bottom of your squat. This compensation increases the activation of your quadriceps while decreasing the activation of gluteal muscles.
Strategies to improve your hip mobility and consequently your squat:
1. Stand up at work – stand up often and change the positioning of your hips to avoid the passive prolonged position which results in the shortening of the hip flexors.
2. Stretch – passive stretching of the hip flexors help to increase the hip range of motion and also prevent any reductions in your range of motion.
3. Foam roll – foam rolling your anterior thigh and hip muscles can help you to increase you range of motion by releasing any tightness or tension present in those structures.
If you are experiencing hip issues, or having trouble with squatting at the gym, book in to see one of our Sydney CBD Physio’s. We have both a Martin Place clinic and Barangaroo – King Street Wharf clinic, two convenient Sydney CBD locations for all your Sports Physio needs.