Having Difficulty with Squats at the Gym?

So you've been getting back into a great exercise routine and regaining a healthy lifestyle lately.  But now you are starting to experience some difficulty with squats.  Perhaps you are feeling tightness in the hips or legs, pinching in the hip, or feeling as if you cannot squat very low without compromising your form.  Chances are, you are experiencing some side effects from decreased mobility in either the hips or the calves.  It's common especially if you have a more sedentary job, to get tightness in these areas.  Over time that muscle tightness can contribute to the joint itself tightening up.  So what can you do to alleviate these symptoms and return to your workouts without having difficulty with your squats? Read on to get some good solutions.

If you experience pinching or tightness in the hip, chances are your hip mobility is to blame.  One of the best things you can do is to incorporate a dynamic warm-up with hip mobility drills in it in order to loosen up the joint prior to squatting.

Bear Walk

Begin on all fours and walk forward on your hands and feet, keeping your feet out wide in order to target the hip joint.

Demonstration of bear walk exercise

Squat to Stand

Start standing up with feet wide apart.  Hinge at the hips and bend forward to reach your hands to the ground.  Then squat at the hips and stand back up to starting position.

Squat to stand exercise demonstration

If you feel as if you cannot squat very low anymore or have tightness in the calves, your calf muscles are most likely the culprit.  Stretching these muscles and using a foam roll will help loosen them up.  In the meantime, you can squat with your heels up on a block in order to give slack to the muscles so you can achieve a deeper squat position.

Calf Stretch

Stand in a staggered stance with the back foot straight.  Lean forward until you feel a stretch in the back of the calf.  Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 3 times on each leg.Calf stretch demonstration

Squat Position

Place your heels on a wood block or rolled-up towel in your typical stance position.  Squat as you normally would but you will feel that you can achieve a deeper squat.

Squat position demonstration

Try these activities the next time you are in the gym to see if you notice less difficulty with squats.  Remember, it will take time to increase mobility within the muscles and joints but keep with it.  And if you experience sharp pain or the pain continues to persist, see a Physical Therapist because it likely will require more manual therapy rather than some exercises to resolve.  Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or would like to take advantage of our FREE injury consultation.

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