Squat: How Hip Anatomy Shapes Performance

How Hip Socket Orientation Can Impact Your Squat

Struggling to achieve an “ass to grass” squat? This may not just be due to poor mobility, but based on your anatomical structure.

Whilst a squat set up may seem like a simple achievement, for many, their genetic hip morphology can impede performance. This is why it is essential to understand your client’s genetic makeup, to effectively instruct technique, as well as create optimal programming.


Hip Socket Depth

The hip is made up of a femoral head sitting within a bony acetabulum (or hip socket). The depth of this socket will impact the range of motion achievable for that specific individual.

A deeper hip socket = more bony coverage

This means that as the individual pushes into hip flexion, they will meet their anatomical limit sooner due to bony impingement. If this individual tries to squat deeper they will often be met with pinching, pain or compensatory movement strategies.

A shallow hip socket = less bony coverage

Conversely, individuals with shallow hip sockets have more available range for hip flexion. This allows them to squat deeper without encountering bony contact or impingement. These individuals will often comfortably perform squats with greater depth.


Hip Socket Orientation

The orientation of the hip socket will also impact someone’s squat stance and available range of motion.

Anteriorly facing sockets

If the hip socket is facing more anteriorly (or forward), the individual will more likely achieve a narrow stance position. These individuals will tolerate a narrow squat and conventional deadlift over a sumo position.

Laterally facing sockets

If the hip socket faces more laterally (or outward), the individual will more likely tolerate a wider stance position. These individuals may tolerate a sumo deadlift or wider squat stance over a conventional deadlift/ narrow squat stance.


Femur Length:

Long Femur, Short Torso

The length of an individual’s femur relative to their torso can also influence squat mechanics. Those with longer femurs and shorter torsos may require a wider stance and more forward lean of the trunk to counterbalance the movement. Due to the increased torso lean, these individuals will often find low bar back squats uncomfortable. This is due to the naturally increased forward lean required in a low bar squat.These individuals may need greater ankle range of motion, or heel wedges to assist with an upright torso position when squatting.

Short Femur, Long Torso

Those with short femurs and long torsos will tolerate a more upright stance. They will often find a squat much more comfortable than those with longer femurs, and will tolerate the low bar positioning a lot better.

Understanding the impact of hip socket depth, orientation, femur length, and femoral torsion on your squat mechanics can help you tailor your training approach to suit your individual body structure. It’s essential to perform a thorough assessment and consider any injuries, joint morphologies, or genetic variations to optimize your squat technique. Remember, everyone’s body is unique, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to squatting.

Want to gain in depth knowledge of these anatomical nuances? Check out our brand new Movement Foundations Course, designed to equip you with the expertise to optimize your client’s programming, regardless of their unique anatomical charactertistics!