Raising heels while squatting decreases erector activation???? maybe….not.

Question sent in about squat mechanics…

Hey Peter,
I did a brief search through some scientific journals (abstracts that is), primarily concerning orthopedics as there seems to be more research done in this field concerning foot wear – which can be relatable to squatting with elevated heels – and it’s effect on muscle activation. Now admittedly I did not read a lot of them, but the ones I did read all seem to agree that elevated heels (in the studies case, high heels, etc…) did decrease muscle activation of the back, primarily lower back I believe.

Sorry I did not attach any links as I’m too lazy to go back and find them.

Now elevating my heels has worked in the past, but I used decreased loads – mainly because the movement is simply more difficult therefore certain variables had to be changed. But in the event that one wants to do a full squat by elevating their heels, and at the same time loading the bar at a weight they can handle – lets say – at parallel, I can see the potential for some serious damage.

I will submit, if the heels are elevated and the person’s posture is changed as well as their center of mass being in a different position relative to all of the axes involved in a squat. This alone will change all the moments to the spinal axes in the lumbar region, this would certainly decrease the demand put on the erectors thus decreasing output readable by an EMG. Perhaps one reason for the study’s findings. This would NOT be directly related to the “position” of plantar flexion specifically but more-so the resulting distribution of mass caused by the absence of limitation of dorsiflexion and subsequent allowance for a more erect posture thus decreasing the COM moment of resistance on the erectors themselves. Not magical position changes… just physics.

Leave a Reply