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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 01-30-2006, 12:27 PM   #1
Jim Lark
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After going to the O-lifting seminar, I realized my lifts are limited by my squat. Been working on the hamstring flexibility, keeping the arch in the back, but I can't seem to get below horizontal without the low back rounding. I tried something that was interesting. I put a 25lb bumper plate under my heels and, voila, I can go down all the way, my upper body is near vertical, and no rounding of the lumbar.

Does this mean my achilles tendons are just super tight? Or, is there some anatomical reason that some people have that inhibits their ability to get down low?

Thanks,
Jim
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Old 01-30-2006, 12:52 PM   #2
Lincoln Brigham
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No. Your hips and hamstrings are still tight. The shoes did not fix that. They just shifted your knees further forward, increasing the knee flexion.

Try this test:

http://www.crossfit.com/discus/messages/22/19129.jpg

With a bent knee and foot flat on a chair or box, see how far you can bend your ankle without the heel coming up. If you can bend it this far, you have sufficient ankle flexibility to squat deep.
http://www.crossfit.com/discus/messages/22/19130.jpg

If your low back starts rounding, that's the hamstrings pulling on the pelvis.
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Old 01-30-2006, 01:15 PM   #3
Sheila Gruenwald
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Jim, i learned this trick from years of gymnastics for increasing flexability. Muscles typically work in a contracted state so this exercise is designed to confuse them.
Lay on your back and have a friend put your foot on their shoulder to your flexibility and comfort level. With the helpers hands BELOW your knee push against them as hard as you can for a count of 10. Relax and you will be amazed how much further your leg will move towards your chest with the aid of your helper. do this three times on each leg each time starting from as far as is comfortable for you.
I have to do this stretch with my son because he has his fathers flexibility..... straight like board. Be sure to stretch AFTER your work out when your muscles are "warmed-up".
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Old 01-30-2006, 03:07 PM   #4
John Messano
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from the CF warm-up, the Samson Stretch and Overhead Squats with a Brommstick work to loosen my tight hip flexors, lower back, shoulders and hamstrings.
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Old 01-30-2006, 03:12 PM   #5
Lisa Sorbo
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Lincoln,
since we all have different leg lengths, asking how far between the lines would be less than useful - but would you say that the back of your knee is over your toes? What do you suggest we compare to see if we have the same flexibility?

I have one really tight ankle (due to injury) that I'm working on, seems to be more limited in the joint itself than achilles per se - and I'm trying to determine when (if ever) I'll have "enough" to go low.
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Old 01-30-2006, 03:30 PM   #6
Paul Findley
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Interesting I just saw this go by today. I don't really have the background to comment on it though. Perhaps it is ok if used for demonstration and should not be part of normal execution. FWIW:

http://www.weightloserzone.com/exercise/32.php

Placing blocks under the heels in a squat

Placing blocks under the heels is a common technique used by trainers and exercisers alike to compensate for tight calf muscles (soleus) or to concentrate work on the quadriceps (thigh muscles). Often exercisers see other individuals performing squats in this manner and they aim to copy them. This practice is not advisable since one is essentially “giving in” to the lack of flexibility at the ankle and failing to increase the quality of this highly functional movement. Raising the heels also places the ankle in an unstable, plantarflexed position making it more susceptible to injury – specifically a lateral ankle sprain. In this position, the body’s center of mass shifts from the midfoot to nearer the toes, increasing the likelihood of a loss of balance and possible injury. A safer method to target either the quadriceps or the hamstrings and glutes is to control the bar placement on the back. In the high position the bar rests on the posterior deltoids (shoulder muscles) at the base of the neck, this has the effect of targeting the quadriceps muscles. In the low position, the bar rests further down the back across the posterior deltoid at the level of the middle trapezius (top of the shoulder blades) this positioning will translate into a greater load being shifted towards the hamstring and glute muscles.
This article has aimed to highlight the common mistakes that people may make in their exercise routines. Very often just an awareness of the mistakes can often remedy the situation while other problems may take time and experience to deal with like learning correct exercise technique. It is hoped that this article served the purpose of informing the reader so as to allow him/her to get the most out of their exercise routine and allow them to make educated assessments of themselves and other exercise professionals.


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Old 01-30-2006, 05:25 PM   #7
Lincoln Brigham
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Lisa,
I was squatting personal records with a torn and repaired Achilles tendon. I know tight ankles! It is not necessary to have flexible ankles to squat below parallel.

Check out this picture of Chad Vaughn:
http://www.crossfit.com/discus/messages/22/19144.jpg
Look how deep he is squatting. The angle of his ankle is boringly unremarkable. The knee is about over the toe and not any more than that; it's much less than my picture above. But look at the angle of his hip. That's extreme flexibility - his ribs are between his thighs and yet he still has a good arch in his low back.

If you need to go even deeper than Chad - and some world-class Olympic lifters do - then you need to start looking at more ankle flexion. But most Crossfitters don't need to go that deep. Most people are having problems with hip flexibility. The article above that Paul quoted is flat out wrong for most people complaining about not being able to get below parallel. Most people would get much more depth out of squatting by working on their hamstring flexibility than ankle flexibility. They'd also be greatly reducing the strain on their lumbar spine.
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Old 01-31-2006, 11:06 AM   #8
Lisa Sorbo
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That's good to know. I'd be happy to have enough ankle flexibility to be able to sit on a curb or low stair and stand up again - without having to reposition /step out with the bad foot.

I'll work on hip/hamstring flexibility. I already know I have pisiform *issues* - guess everything is tight back there.
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Old 01-31-2006, 11:38 AM   #9
Steve Shafley
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I'll chime in here with the opinion that the combination of stretching the hip flexors (Samson Stretch) and the overhead squat is a very good combination for warming up.

The CF warm up is a very good tool.
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Old 01-31-2006, 11:51 AM   #10
Allen Yeh
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Take a look at #2 on my post of what I learned from Coach Dan John.

http://www.crossfit.com/discus/messages/22/18615.html

get a partner to help you.
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