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Squat Your Way: Embracing Individual Anatomy for Optimal Form

In both yoga and strength training I am regularly asked about the “correct” or “right” way to squat.

My answer is this…


There is no one correct way to squat.


In order to explain, I need to give you more information...


Squat Your Way: Joints Involved in Squatting

When you squat several joint actions need to be coordinated: ankle dorsiflexion, knee flexion, and hip flexion. (See image below.)


Woman Demonstrating Joint Actions for Squatting
Woman Demonstrating Joint Actions for Squat

Anatomical variations, prior injuries, and mobility at any one of these joints can impact how one squats.


Squat Your Way: The Hip Joint

For this post, let’s focus on only one joint – the hip joint. This is where the head of the femur (thigh bone) meets (or articulates with) the pelvis at the hip socket. (See image below.)


Graphic showing Bony Anatomy of the Hip Socket
Bony Anatomy of the Hip Socket

Squat Your Way: Variations in Skeletal Anatomy

Variations in skeletal anatomy of both the femur and the pelvis can impact how the hip joint is able to move and available ranges of motion.


Here are Some Possible Variations in Skeletal Anatomy that Effect How You Squat:


1. Pelvic Shape

First, for those assigned "female" at birth, there are 4 generally accepted pelvic shapes. (See below. Image courtesy of https://www.physio-pedia.com/Pelvic_Floor_Anatomy.) Keep in mind, these are broad categories and shape still varies significantly from person to person.


Graphic showing the 4 pelvic shapes
Examples of the 4 Pelvic Shapes

2. Differences in the angle of the neck/head of the femur.

The person with the femur on the right (as it meets the hip socket) would likely have been capable of a much wider straddle than the person on the right.


Photo of variations in the Neck/Head of the Femur
Example of Variation in the Neck/Head of the Femur


3. Differences in the rotation of the neck/head of the femur.

Imagine how each gradual change in rotation might impact a person’s ability to squat or do something seemingly simple like sit cross-legged in lotus posture.


Photo showing an Example of Femur Torsion (Rotation)
Femur Bones aligned to see Torsion (Rotation)

Photo of Femur Bones aligned to see Torsion (Rotation)
Femur Bones aligned to see Torsion (Rotation)

Photo of Example of Possible Differences in Femoral Torsion (Rotation)
Example of Possible Differences in Femoral Torsion (Rotation)


4. Differences in the angle of the hip socket.

The person with the pelvis on the right would have been capable of greater external rotation than the person on the left simply because their hip sockets are more lateral-facing. (Again, think not only of squatting, but of yoga postures like Lotus or Warrior 2.)


Photo of Examples of Possible Variation in Hip Socket Location and Angle
Examples of Possible Variation in Hip Socket Location and Angle

Photo of Examples of Possible Variation in Hip Socket Location and Angle
Examples of Possible Variation in Hip Socket Location and Angle

(Bone photos courtesy of Paul Grilley: https://www.paulgrilley.com/bones)


These are just a few examples. And our femur bones and hips can vary from one side of our body to the other!


Squat Your Way: Beyond Skeletal Variation

Now, contemplate the possible variations among the more than 8 billion people on the face of the earth.


Don’t forget to take into account differences in muscles, tendons, ligaments, soft tissue, injury history, pain, and exercise history. (Some of these things we can change, but most of them we cannot.)


(As I wrote about in this blog post, our experience of pain alone is multifaceted.)


And recall, we’re only focusing on only one of the three joints involved in a squat. We haven’t even touched on the knees or ankles!


Squat Your Way: The Big Takeaway

The big takeaway is this: There is no one “best”, “proper”, “correct”, “neutral”, or “right” way to squat.


There is only YOUR way.


Need help discovering YOUR best squat? Email me and we'll set up a private session.

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