5 Stretches To Improve Your Squat
Unless you actively work on your flexibility, it's likely you struggle with tight muscles. Not only can this feel uncomfortable in day to day activities, it can impact your range of motion at the gym!
If you struggle getting to, or below, parallel in your squats, focusing on lower body mobility and stretching before and after your squats can help to improve your depth. Mobility and stretching are often overlooked but spending a little bit of time priming your body can help to improve your form, range of movement and flexibility – which all can help with overall strength and power.
Add this mobility routine into your workout plan, designed to improve your squat by mobiliing your hip flexors, glutes, quads and hamstrings.
Stretch 1: Ankle Rocks
Set up in a kneeling position on your right side, with your left foot back and neutral, not on your toes. Use your hands to gently and slowly drive your knees to your toes and back. You can also use your left hand for stability by lightly resting on the floor. Keep your core engaged throughout, and only flex forward as far as feels comfortable. Repeat on the opposite side.
Stretch 2: Wide Stance Rocks
Set up in a quadruped (all-four) position and slowly move your knees wider than hip-width. Use your forearms as support, and rock your body forward while lowering your hips forward towards the ground. Then sit your bum back over your toes and repeat, slowly rocking in and out of the stretch.
Stretch 3: T-Spine Rotations
Set up in a quadruped (all-four) position with your knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders. Place your right hand on either the side of your head, neck or upper back - whatever feels most comfortable. Maintain a neutral spine and braced core while you lift your elbow and open your chest to the sky, then reverse the rep and slowly control the movement back down. Your gaze should follow your elbow at all times and then repeat on both sides.
Stretch 4: Split Stance Rock to Tall Split Kneel
Set up in a kneeling side lunge position with your bent knee under your hips. Keep your core braced and chest up as your hinge at the hips and sit your butt back to your back foot. Squeeze your glutes and slowly reverse the movement, driving forward extending your hips. Repeat the stretch on both sides.
Stretch 5: Toe Touch to Squat
Set up in a deep squat position, bringing your arms inside your knees and hands down to the top of your feet. From here, lift your hips and straighten your knees as you slowly transition into a toe touch position. Depending on your flexibility you may need to slide your hands from the top of your feet up to your ankles or shins. Always go with what feels comfortable for you and your range of motion – the stretch should never feel painful.
The most important thing with mobility work is to go at your own pace and always listen to your body to see how it responds. Feel free to move through this routine a few times and remember to spend more time in areas of tightness – or just areas where the stretch feels good! Don’t forget to also repeat the stretch on both sides for any unilateral exercises.
Stretching is a great way to improve your range of motion at the gym, but it can also help to prevent DOMS, reduce the chance of injuries, and help alleviate stiff, tight muscles.