Squats – Are they Symmetrical?

Symmetrical squats are important and this means that when viewed from the side both kneecaps will end up in the same place – with good alignment, your bottom does not drop more to one side, your pelvis does not twist to one side or drop down and that if you have weights on your shoulder the bar does not lean over to one side. When viewed from behind the bottom will come straight back and not twist to one side on the way down or up.  Some of the below list may affect the symmetry of the squat.

Ankle Dorsiflexion – this is to do with ankle stiffness.  Can you move your body over the ankle?  If the ankle is stiff perhaps from a past injury this will limit the amount that your body can move forward over the ankle unless you stand on a wedge.

Knee Pain – when your knee goes into flexion especially if your body is coming over too far it will load the knee joint.  If you have some arthritis in the knee or the kneecap this may cause pain.  Also, any tears in the cartilage may also cause pain and therefore the weight bearing may not be even.

Hip Pain – If you have a tear in the labrum (cartilage) or some anterior impingement in the joint it will affect the way you squat through the hip.  It may make you squat with your legs wider and turned out to avoid pain.  You could also weight bear less on this side.

Groin Tightness – this tightness on the left side for example will cause the pelvis moving to the left in the bottom position.

Piriformis Tightness – at the top of the squat this will make the left hip appear externally rotated if tight on the left side.  In the lower part of the squat it will make the pelvis move to the left, again causing asymmetry.

Posterior Capsule Tightness – this will appear like the piriformis tightness but at the bottom of the squat the pelvis will move to the right not the left.

Leg Length Difference – this depends on if the leg length difference is actual or apparent.  Both will have an effect on the symmetry of the squat but for different reasons.

Scoliosis – this depends if it is structural (bony growth) or apparent due to asymmetry of muscles, that is, functional or apparent.

Hip Muscle Strength – this can be due to muscle weakness – it may be in glut max where you will move to the stronger side or it may be in the quadriceps muscles which will show up especially in the up phase of the movement moving weight across to the other side.  There may also be some weakness in the deep pelvic stabilisers which may cause a pelvic drop on the opposite side.

Upper Limb Tightness – tight latissimus dorsi or pect major will have an effect looking at the upper body and the way the bar moves (is it symmetrical through range?).

By Melanie Roberts.

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