"Keep your eyes and head up!” Those words probably ring in the back of your mind if you’ve ever participated in high school sports where squatting was a staple, I know it was at my school. What if this advice was actually some that could cause you issues? You’d be right if you agreed! We’re going to dive in as to why the advice of “eyes and heads up” is bad for you and hat you can do to ensure you don’t end up with back pain or other serious issues in the future.
When it comes to lifting weights, especially squatting with heavy loads on your back, form is everything. Without proper form you are setting yourself up for issues down the road, most commonly of which include pain.
If you saw my Instagram video that compares the good and bad forms (you can click here to view it), you will see how such a subtle movement makes a huge difference.
The issue here is that when you lift your eyes and heads up you immediately put your cervical spine perpendicular to the rest of your spine. In this position, when you add a load such as a barbell and weight, you’re now adding pressure to the muscle and nerves that run through your cervical vertebrae.
Unfortunately, you may see some professional athletes and competitors use this “head up” technique but the relationship of bad form and issues such as pain, arm and leg numbness, and cervical radiculopathy (click here to read more) is too compelling to risk it. Instead, keep reading to see the quick and easy fix to prevent long term issues.
When you squat, you want to find a point about 1 to 2 feet in front of you to fixate your eyes*. By doing this you are going to notice your chin tucking and your head now aligns with the rest of your spine. No pinched nerves, no pain, and no bad form. It’s honestly the simplest form fix but makes the most difference. Here are a few more form items to check off before you load up the weight for a few sets:
Head*: maintain alignment with your torso angle; don’t look left or right at the mirrors; keep
Chest/Shoulder Blades: Keep a big chest and retract, or squeeze your shoulder blades
Hip/Knees: As you move the weight down, drive your hips back and knees outward and allow them to bend at the same time
Stance: heels should be shoulder-width apart with your heels aligned under your shoulders
Feet: Position them slightly outward roughly 30-degrees with your entire foot on the ground (keep toes and heels on the ground)
Depth/Movement: Squat until your hips are just at or slightly below your knees and drive the bar up in a vertical movement pattern – no horizontal movement should be present
FINALLY, AN ANSWER
There you have it, a simple fix in your squatting form that will save you from a lifetime of pain down the road. Sometimes the advice we hear thrown at us during times of intense emotion and misused as motivation isn’t always the best for proper technique. Next time you squat, keep your head in neutral alignment and follow the simple checklist above to ensure you are performing the squat with perfect form. Like what you see? Share with a friend! Want more? Follow me on YouTube (click here), Facebook (click here), or Instagram (click here). Thanks for reading!