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Pose of the Week – A Better Squat for the Hip & Ankle

Pose of the Week is all about tackling hip and pelvic issues in yoga postures. The goal is to make a yoga pose fit your body, rather than trying to force your body to fit a yoga pose.

Visit my blog to see the other Posts of the Week and sign up for my newsletter (at the end of this post) to get helpful posts and videos like this delivered straight to your inbox.

This week’s POTW is based on how to squat with hip and ankle issues: 

Pose of the Week | Better Squat for the Hip & Ankle | Dr. Ginger Garner
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Question: Can you address pinching in the front of the hip and loss of ankle range of motion in squat? 

My response: That’s a great question and one that is also quite common!

In this video, I go over a few of the most obvious things to check first.

But first, what will hip pinching and a lack of ankle range of motion do to a squat? 

  • If your hip joint or soft tissue around the hip is restricted or tight you won’t be able to get into a full squat without groin pain. 

  • If your ankle joint or soft tissue around the ankle is restricted or tight you won’t be able to get into a full squat without the heels lifting from the ground. 

  • Now, there are other reasons that would prevent you from doing a full squat, like but not limited to:

    • Lack of knee range of motion
    • Joint replacement at the hip or knee 
    • Joint fusion of the spine, hip, ankle, knee, foot, or toes 
    • Osteoporosis
    • all risk/lack of balance 

Why do a squat at all? Is being able to squat important? Totally.

Squatting is actually GREAT for: 

A Better Yoga Squat for the Hip & Ankle | Relaxing the Puborectalis | Dr. Ginger Garner
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Squatting relaxes the puborectalis,
which makes having a bowel movement easier
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  • Digestion – squatting improves gut motility and encourages the intestines to move, creating bowel sounds

  • Elimination – squatting helps you empty the bowels easier by relaxing the muscle around the anus, called the puborectalis (see the figure at right)

  • Mood – if much of our serotonin is in the gut, squatting could theoretically improve mood and feelings of quiet calm through stimulation of the anti-inflammatory effects of the vagus nerve. 

  • Circulation – through compression of the lower legs by the upper legs, to prevent pooling of the blood in the extremities, which can improve blood pressure and help maintain integrity of the skin and soft tissue of the lower legs and avoid peripheral after disease, which can cause numbness, tingling, nerve and/or tissue damage. Frequent squatting can also prevent blood clots, and some swear that varicose veins are improved due to the sump pump action that moving from a squat to stand repeatedly throughout the day provides. 

  • Reduction of lower leg edema/swelling, by creating a sump pump effect in the lower extremities and pelvis, to return fluid and blood back toward the heart 

  • Spine, hip, knee, ankle, foot, and toe range of motion 

  • When combined with other yoga poses, squatting can build upper body and core strength as well

  • And one of my FAVE benefits, releasing and relaxing the pelvic floor, especially when you combine the pose with deep belly/abdominal breathing, also called abdomino-diaphragmatic breathing. Get started on great belly breathing with this practice below. 

What’s not to love about a squat? 

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Well, if you are getting the “pinchy” groin pain and the ankles are moaning at you, then squat may not be so much fun. In this video I tackle: 

  • How to differentiate if the “pinch” is a joint OR soft tissue issue in the hip. 

  • How to differentiate if the ankle range of motion issue is a joint or soft tissue problem. 

  • When to seek help from your local friendly pelvic/hip PT and when you may be able to tackle it on your own

  • What to do about the pinch in the hip and the loss of ankle range of motion with a few #yoga hacks  

Granted, this is just scratching the surface of what I look at if someone has pinching in the hip during a squat or other knee to chest movement.

There’s always a possibility of a hip labral tear or hip impingement. And in those cases, you need to see a pelvic/hip PT specialist stat. There’s also the possibility of soft tissue issues in the hip or ankle that will need hands on treatment from an orthopedic, manual PT.

That’s okay too, PT’s are here to help you get back to doing what you love; whether it is a squat in yoga, or squatting down to play with your kids, grandkids, or pets! 

Pose of the Week – Better Squats for the Hip & Ankle

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PS HERE ARE 3 MORE WAYS I CAN HELP YOU!

1. Free Phone Consult – Not sure if your yoga practice is on target? Struggling with hip pain or rehab? I offer free phone consults to see how I can best help.

2. Take courses with me at Living Well Institute and Yoga U Online!

3. Take advantage of the Free Medical Therapeutic Yoga Basic Video Library.


DISCLAIMER: These movements are for protection and preservation, as well as maximizing, pelvic girdle function (hip, SIJ, low back, pelvic floor). This and any other videos I instruct do not constitute physical therapy or a patient-provider relationship. User assumes risk in performing this or any video. Finally, you need to get the approval of your healthcare provider before doing this or any instructional movement video. Assessment and evaluation of the hip & knee should only be done by a licensed healthcare provider.

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