Our bodies are remarkable in design and efficiency. We are meant to move pain free. Thinking of our motor system as a chain…connected. When one link is off or weakened the rest will be forced to adapt which can lead to injuries. Our next post in assessing proper squat form is our starting position. Many of us will set up with our feet pointed out, commonly referred to as “duck feet” We do this because it helps us compensate for lack of mobility or muscle weakness allowing us to get lower in our squat. By doing this we are flattening our foot (removing its natural arch) and causing our knees to collapse inward. This prevents us from recruiting our powerful posterior chain muscles that work to prevent the femur (upper leg bone) from internally rotating by applying an external force at the hip, pulling our pelvis back and stabilizing our knee and ankle joints. This along with our calf muscles work like a stiffened rope to pull our leg into external rotation and keep ourselves mechanically aligned. Turning our feet out slackens the rope. Outside of this being a poor athletic position it can lead to many injuries. Reduced shock absorption at the ankles leads to plantar fasciitis and shin splints as well as places increased load absorption at the knee. Poor ankle stability due to extra stress on the outside ankle ligaments (connect bone to bone). Increased stress on the ligaments and medial meniscus (shock absorber) of the knee. Reduced ability to recruit our posterior chain muscles (remember our glutes are the key here as they keep our femur from internally rotating/knee cave. In addition this puts our back at risk because when our glutes fire it signals our abs to turn on thus bracing our spine to receive a load. Finally we are also at risk for nerve compression by placing excess strain on our piriformis (small muscle that attaches at the sacrum, the small bone at the base of our spine and runs to your femur). Stress here causes shortening in the muscle and compression of the sciatic nerve.
In short keep your feet straight.