I’ll try to keep this short!
My girlfriend has been doing crossfit for about three months now. She is an athlete, but mostly a runner, so she has very very strong legs. As you all know, deep squats are some of the primary movements in Crossfit (which I dislike because i NEVER make my clients squat that low with their knees turned out). My girlfriend told me the instructors keep telling her to squat lower and that her chest is falling forward. I told her to squat safely and that if she couldn’t squat that low with proper form–dont do it!
I put her through a workout yesterday that involved body weight squats–knees/hips 90 degrees, knees and toes in line with each other. I was surprised to see even with no weight, he knees falling INWARD, LACK OF BALANCE, and CHEST FALLING FORWARD.
Now, in a squat assessment with a new, de-conditioned client, I would know the causes of these improper movements. BUT, as mentioned, my girlfriend has good balance, strong legs, and is an athlete. WHAT COULD BE THE CAUSE OF THIS???
TIGHT HIPS?? OVERACTIVE ADDUCTORS? WEAK LOW BACK??
ANYTHING WILL HELP! I just want to make sure she is doing these exercises correctly, and not becoming injured.
Alright..I’ll bite. Lets take a look at a couple of possible reasons for the chest “falling” forward.
1) if her femur:tibia ratio leans toward a longer femur then she is going to need a wider squat stance…such as wider than shoulder(or possibly wider) not just hip width. I can go into more detail with other exercises needed to adjust compensations that can develop with a wider stance if you would like.
2) weak core can cause an issue here as well. what does her lumbar curve look like when she is squatting?
3) as a runner she might have synergistic dominance in her hamstrings and her glutes might need some work….goes hand in hand with the weak core issue.
4) strong legs don’t mean anything without mobility. what is her ankle mobility like? if she has limited dorsal flexion then she will be forced to rock back and stick her butt out farther than necessary to get depth. This will cause her torso to lean forward and her butt to stick back. Now with this in mind think about a traditional powerlifting squat…they lead with the butt straight back to initiate the movement which is absolutely fine if you have a wider stance squat where the shins can stay perpendicular to the floor. If she has been taught to squat like this (knees behind toes) and her stance is to narrow it is impossible to go ass in the grass deep.
5) Where is her bar position? Is she high bar squatting or low bar squatting? A high bar squat will keep the torso more upright and a low bar will set the center of gravity in line with the scapula thoracic region which will put the shoulders forward more than a high bar squat. I personally prefer the low bar squat for heavy squatting and snatch body position carry over. The high bar back squat is a good way to load the legs closer to the body position of a power clean without doing a front squat.
Now with this all in mind lets look at your symptoms:
Wobbly knees – week hips
torso forward – ankle mobility and core strength
loss of balance – ankle mobility and hip stability
One more question…is she a quad dominant squatter or a hip and hamstring dominant squatter?
If you make a video and send it to me I can give you a more in-depth opinion of what is going on.
I see you are NASM certified so the solutions chart for the overhead squat assessment has some of what I’ve said in it and might be worth taking a look at as well