5 essential stretches to take your squats even deeper


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Photo: Getty Images / Maria Fuchs

Finding perfect squat form should be the goal of every amateur athlete. After all, squats are a foundational movement of almost every workout routine with a wide variety of modifications for every skill level. Before you step up to a series of #sorefordays variations, a few squat stretches can help you to get comfortable with the original movement.

Amanda Bisk, exercise psychologist and yoga teacher, recommends different stretches that make it easier to master your preferred technique. “Squats are one of the most common exercises we do, but often the one we can’t get quite right,” she writes on Instagram. “Whether you feel like you’re falling backward as you sit down, you can’t quite get your glutes to activate, or you suffer from knee pain, these stretches will help improve essential mobility in your ankles and hips.”

To better your squat form, start incorporating these simple stretches into your routine. As your mobility improves, so will your ability to get the ultimate booty burn.

The best stretches for better squats, according to Amanda Bisk

 

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1. Plantar fascia stretch

Not all stretches for squats are created equal. This one targets the arches of your feet since tightness in the area causes loss of mobility in the ankle and discomfort in the calf muscles. Ankle mobility is essential for getting deeper in your squat and also allows you to sit back and load your glutes rather than leaning forward when you squat, which increases pressure in the knee.

Tip: Hold for at least one minute. This stretch needs time. Start forward and then apply more weight, if you need it, by leaning back and eventually sitting up.

2. Ankle mobility

This stretch improves flexion in the ankle by releasing the Achilles and lower calf (soleus).

Tip: Start with a static stretch, aiming to push weight down into your heel while pushing your knee forward. Add a rock forward and back to work deeper mobility. Hold for 10 long, deep breaths.

3. Deep hip and groin lunge

This stretch increases hip and groin flexibility to allow deep “sit back” in your squat, which activates your glutes.

Tip: Keep your belly button pulled in to increase hip opening and prevent “dumping” in the lower back. Hold for 10 deep breaths. Drop the knee out for last four breaths.

4. Forward fold to deep squat

This stretch improves hamstring and hip flexibility and also teaches external rotation of the hip joint (squeezing knees out) as you squat. This stimulates glute activation.

Tip: Keep your feet just wider than hip width with your heels grounded, and push your knees out using your elbows to press against your inner thighs. Only lower as far as you can while keeping your heels down. Once warmed up, hold the last squat for 10 breaths.

5. Full squat

Practice slow and controlled bodyweight squats focusing on sitting the hips back first, then grounding on the heels, keeping the chest up, and squeezing the knees out as you lower and stand up.

If you’re still having trouble mastering squats, try using an exercise ball. Then, you’re ready to master these four squat variations.

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