Today's Daily Tip
Assessing Range of Motion in Squatting Poses
There are three major joints to consider when teaching a Squat: the hip, the knee, and the ankle. If any one of these three joints is limited in its range of motion (ROM), then any of the squatting poses will be awkward and uncomfortable. You can do some simple ROM tests with your students who are struggling with these poses.
The student should lie on her back, bend her right knee, and use her hands to try to hug her right thigh to her ribs. She should test this on each side, and then hug both knees to the ribs at the same time. If she can do this, then her hips have sufficient ROM to do a Squat. In fact, if our student could hug her knees this way and we were able to roll her up off her back and onto her feet, she would actually be in the Squat.
The student first kneels with his right foot in front and his left knee on the floor. Placing his hands on the floor for balance, he should slowly bend his right knee to lower himself closer to the floor. At the same time, he should lean forward and press his ribs to his right thigh to help push deeper into the lunge. His arms should be on each side of his right leg for balance. He should keep leaning, bending his knee and leaning forward until the back of his right thigh (his hamstrings) press against his right calf. If he can do this, then his knee has the ROM for a Squat. In fact, he is already doing a Squat with his front leg. If we could bring his left leg forward into the same position, he would be squatting. Help your student test both sides.
Please note that it is okay for the heel of the front foot to come off the ground in this test. We are testing the ROM of the knee, not the ankle.
The test for this is also the Crescent Pose, the same pose we used to test the knee. The student kneels with the right foot forward and left knee on the floor. But this time when he bends his knee leans forward; we want him to stop at just the point where the front heel starts to raise off of the floor. This is the limit of his ankle flexibility.
If a student's heel starts to come off of the floor before the back of the upper leg (hamstrings) is pressing the calf muscle, then squatting will be difficult or impossible to do with the heels down.
The Principle of Counterbalance
This principle is most easily demonstrated by standing with legs straight and bending forward with a flat back. Doing this is the middle of the room is no problem for most people. One needn't be very flexible, just flexible enough to hinge forward a little below horizontal. But here is the trick: Try to do this while standing with your back against a wall, legs straight, and heels touching the wall. You will find this impossible to do without falling forward. Why?
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