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Diagonal Squatting…what’s the deal? | Boddicker Performance

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Diagonal Squatting…what’s the deal?

by on Dec 2nd, 2009

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Early last summer, a friend and I were at the gym doing some reasonably heavy front squats.  My friend would get to just about parallel with the ground and then he’d begin to shift diagonally to his left as he finished the eccentric portion of his lift.  I had seen it several times before, but hadn’t figured it out in its entirety.

As my friend continued to squat diagonally, I began to ponder the movement.

Is it bad to be squatting diagonally?  Can we “cue” him out of it?  What is the underlying issue?

In my mind, the diagonal squat is not a good thing.  You’re getting loading on one leg far greater than another leading to the development of more asymmetry, thus leading to potential for injury.  I also discovered that you can’t really cue someone out of the pattern, so there had to be an underlying mechanical issue.

I thought maybe he was sitting away from a weak leg or a stiff hip.  In post-op ACL athletes, there is often a tendency to sit away from the surgical leg as an attempt to protect it, so I thought that might be an option.  It sounded good until he told me that he had no previous injuries to that knee, only a bit of groin pain when he played a lot of soccer.

Fast-forward a few days later and I had one of those “Ah-ha” moments.  Getting to that deep position in the squat requires a great deal of hip flexion, and hip flexion requires a fair shake of femoral internal rotation.  Upon assessing his this range of motion, he had a huge deficit between sides, with the left hip exhibiting far greater ROM in internal rotation.  For the next three weeks we hammered away on kneeling rockbacks, cross-over stepups, drop lunges, and some knee to knee stretching and the pattern cleaned up significantly.  In six weeks, he looked like a brand new man.

While it wasn’t causing him problems at the time, I believe we may have prevented some issues down the line as hip rotation ability is connected with a mish-mash of maladies ranging from low back pain to hip dysfunction to knee pain.

Best regards,

Carson Boddicker

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Leave a Comment »6 Comments
  • Steven Bubel December 2, 2009

    Very nice observation Carson. I’ve found this pattern to be extremely common. You might also want to look into femoral anterior/posterior glide.

  • Carson Boddicker December 2, 2009


    Thanks for the comments.

    For everyone else, Steven believes the best tool to assess for femoral anterior and posterior glide is the kneeling rockback.

    Does anyone else have a recommendation?

    Best regards,
    Carson Boddicker

  • Patrick Ward December 2, 2009

    The rock back is a good one.

    Also, check the ankle mobility on the side they are shifting away from. Check the pelvis too, the side they are shifting towards may occasionally be in an anterior rotation. Also, look at toe touch and standing extension both bilaterally and unilaterally to see how well everything plays together..


  • Geoffrey Bishop December 2, 2009

    I am with Patrick on this one…well said. I would first look at ankle mobility, seems to be what I have found most commonly.


  • Chris Brown December 3, 2009

    Carson, great post — very insightful!

    The rockback as an assessment for femoral ant/post glide sounds interesting. Could you (or Steven) expand a little more?
    I’m currently using them just as mobility/active rest with my tight personal training clients.


  • Jeffrey McCarthy August 23, 2010

    This article, and your blog I’m discovering, are fantastic! I’ve noticed this pattern in myself previously. Now, I have a better understanding of some of it’s causes and how to fix it. Thanks for your contributions to people’s health! :-].

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