The need to use a heel lift to improve squatting indicates that the lifter has mobility issues that should be addressed.
Poor ankle mobilty, hip mobility thoracic spine are usually the contributors to this problem.
Whilst these issues remain unaddressed the lifter will continue to lift with poor form. Furthermore, in their day to day activities, training and during games they will continue to recruit the “wrong muscles” for the job and compensate with other areas of the body to make up for a lack of mobility in another area.
For example, an individual with poor thoracic spine mobility will have increased lumbar spine movement to compensate. This makes the lumbar spine more susceptable to injury. It is performing a task it wasnt meant to do.
I watched the Cronulla Sharks warm up the other day. The players were doing high knee lifts. The majority lacked mobility and were using their lumbar spine to complete the movement and give the appearance that they were lifting their knees high. It was clear they were all hyperextending at the lumbar spine and using their cervical spine to assist as well.
It is no wonder there are so many injuries in Rugby League. The training methods used by some of the elite teams are still “old school”.
The Cronulla Sharks have endeavoured to modernise their training by incorporating dynamic flexibility, however, no attention has been given to where the movement is coming from. The players are just reinforcing poor movement patterns. And worse, loading these poor movement patterns in the weight room.
Do this interesting test…..
Ask your players to take their shoes off and perfom a bodyweight squat. If they cannot do this with correct form, there should be NO loading in the squat movement pattern until the issue is resolved.
You would be better served using single leg training ie lunges. They will assist in developing mobility and avoid compressive forces in the lumbar spine.