Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Demonstrating the Deep Squat with two 24kg Kettlebells in Seoul with Sr RKC Jon Engum looking on
It's a common complaint in the fitness world. You hear individuals complaining that they're too stiff or too inflexible to achieve a certain range of motion. Even coaches & instructors criticize their athletes & students this way as well. Especially in martial arts, where kicking is a priority, this phrase hangs in the air more than Michael Jordan did in his prime.
The first exercise we usually teach in the RKC progression is what's called a "Wall Squat". It's essentially a squat patterning drill that teaches the user how to squat by means of loading the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, etc.) without relying on his/her anterior chain (quads).
In many groups, there's always someone who complains that he/she can't squat down because of being "too stiff" or "too tight" in the back, the legs, or wherever. They'll try to squat down, and it'll take an act of God to get their hips down anywhere near their knees.
But if you put those people on their backs and all of the sudden they can bring their knees within a fist distance of their chest, then the root problem ISN'T stiffness. It's WEAKNESS.
When prime movers are allowed to get weak, the stabilizing muscles have to create movement in their place. So the kinetic chain gets flip-flopped.
What does that mean for the squatter?
Simple, instead of using the proper postural muscles to stabilize during the squat, the "stiff" squatter doesn't have the hip strength to pull him/herself down into the squat, trying to achieve the depth by bending forward from the lumbar spine instead... or in some cases by coming forward onto the tiptoes.
There are plenty of ways to rectify this, but perhaps the simplest and quickest way is to practice an assisted squat while working to develop the strength needed for the 3 Prys (see the previous post below).
You'll find that one you can stabilize better, your active range of motion usually increases! For this and more such fixes to your movement problems, check out the technologies in the "Secrets of" series presented by the Functional Movement Systems gang and the Kettlebells from the Ground-Up pack that we put together!