I was recently working with a patient who had injured her hamstring previously and was preparing for her upcoming sport season but just couldn’t seem to get over the hump in terms of running without pain. I asked to see her squat, (which raised her eyebrows – because what does squatting have to do with running right?) but she appeased my wishes anyways only to fall backwards on her initial try, and then grab a table on her second attempt in order to gain some stability.
“How do you go to the bathroom?” I asked her jokingly to ease her embarrassment.
“I just kinda fall back on to it like everyone else does.”
Needless to say our evaluation really started then (as did a long conversation about sitting, squatting and getting her butt in gear).
As health care professionals we have to stop thinking about squatting as a strength coach’s responsibility, a weight room exercise, or something that causes tall guys knee pain and therefore shouldn’t be done.
Squatting is a movement that we all need for everyday activity and one of the purist expressions of health. If your patients can’t squat or can’t squat without pain then this MUST be addressed, and addressed just as closely as the primary reason they first presented to you. To no one’s surprise this particular athlete had difficulty recruiting her glutes and therefore was utilizing her poor hamstrings as the primary mover instead – a recipe for hamstring strains and continued pain.
A closer look into how your patients move might just reveal that their troubling squat pattern is the underlying cause to the problem that brought them in to see you in the first place.
Art Horne is the Director of Sports Performance at Northeastern University, Boston MA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.