Bounce Baby Bounce
|Is the crease of the hip below the knee?|
I watch Mason pretty closely and it’s very apparent that he already does many things much better than his father. Take flexibility for instance. The positions he has to achieve to enter his car seat would impress any contortionist. Poor guy might as well be trying to eat his heels. Aside from keeping him safe in the auto Mason’s flexibility allows him to effortlessly reach the bottom of a squat. It’s pretty cool to watch, especially now that he is standing so much these days (Not alone, he needs someone holding his hands). My little man bottoms out like his daddy and nothing could make me prouder. Where he is having issues, and we are working on it every day, is explosively bouncing out of the bottom of that squat. In fact, that is a skill all of us could be working on.
The bounce, when initiated and utilized correctly will help an athlete pass more quickly and easily through the sticking point of the squat. Sticking point? It’s the place in the squat, or any movement for that matter, that keeps you from really challenging yourself with big weight or work through that movements full range of motion. According to Greg Everett at Catalyst Athletics the sticking point is where a movement is at its greatest mechanical disadvantage. Each lift has one and getting through it smoothly and efficiently will allow for successfully recovery more often.
How do we break through this sticking point and bounce our way back on top? Let’s start first with how not to do it. When observing a good bounce it appears that the athlete is simply relaxing into the bottom of the squat. Please folks, do not do so under load. Again, Everett puts it best and explains that doing so is bad for two reasons. First, and hopefully most obviously, you’ll hurt yourself. Second, relaxing reduces the stimulus for the stretch reflex. The stretch reflex is what makes the bounce so useful. Furthermore, it is tension and speed in the system that allow the reflex to take place. A good bounce takes advantage of standard plyometric training principals (a term often used and rarely understood). By performing a movement with enough speed and tension the stretch reflex increases total force production and helps to create greater momentum. All of which will help to carry anyone, even my little Mason, through the most difficult portion of a movement, squat included.
What does all this mean? It could mean that you fail to achieve squatting greatness for the same reasons as Mason. My little man can get to the bottom of a squat better than most fully functional adults. Mainly because he is so flexible and all he has to do is relax into it. However, because of inadequate tension, speed, and strength the little guy gets stuck in the bottom. It’s cool. Usually, actually always, whenever he squats he has a spotter and is helped back up. Mason has a lifetime to master this skill and with adequate practice will gain the ability to recover from a full squatting position sooner rather than later. You on the other hand probably don’t have as much time. Plus (hope hope), you are armed with a little more strength, motor control, and desire to achieve. Become a squat-a-holic people. It is the only thing guaranteed to improve every aspect of your life. BELIEVE IT!!!