Take a close look at your squat, or someone else's. Have a look at the feet. Are they wiggling around? This would suggest an inefficient squat.
As fun as the feet wiggle sounds, you don't want to move around at all during your squat. The perfect squat would literally just be straight up and down.
When I start looking at the intricate details of someone's squat, the feet are always a go-to focus of mine. Although it is a minor change when we adjust the feet, it has a major effect.
Often people will be seen squatting in running shoes. There is nothing inherently wrong with doing this, by all means, squat away in your running shoes. However, they are not built to be squatted in. At all. The cushioning might feel nice, but this is distracting from the feedback you'd normally get from your feet, about what's happening between your feet and the ground.
What is seen then is that the feet wiggle around when squatting. They might start to roll inwards, outwards, lift to the toes, or lift to the heels. All of this isn't good.
I often refer then to Newton's 3rd law; every action has an opposite and equal reaction. The force of the weight going down into the floor needs to get a reaction back up from the floor that to make it opposite. To make it equal, it will react with the same amount of force coming down. If we are to be as efficient as possible, we want the entire foot to be producing this force down into the floor, and the floor to respond by pushing back up into our entire foot. When we start to wriggle around with our feet, this puts way more pressure into one part of the foot. Not only that, but we will be off balance. To be off-balance with a heavy load on our back is not the goal. We want to be as 'planted' as possible.
Go au natural
The easiest solution is to go barefoot. This comes with a couple caveats. Number 1; make sure you have the mobility to do this. Some people simply don't (there's a solution to that too, bare with (lol, bare with!! Get it?!)). Number 2; your gym might not let you. In that case, go to another gym (genuinely, if that was my gym, I'd leave!).
Barefoot increases proprioception (the understanding of where your body is in space and the effort it is undertaking when employed in movement) so that you can feel how your feet are responding to your squat and the forces through into the floor. It soon tidies up one's squat.
My mobility is poor!
Without shoes on, you might have found they tipped you up slightly (depending on the shoes) towards your toes, which lent itself to allowing you to hit better depth in your squats. Going barefoot might all of a sudden reduce your range of motion. With that in mind, you might want to look at Olympic lifting shoes. This have a slight tapered heel. This allows you to sit back harder into your squat, which in turn will increase your depth and most likely reduce a lot of back rounding in the process, if you found that barefoot caused that.
I don't want to buy Olympic lifting shoes, what now?
There are some decent ones out there that are inexpensive. Try looking for More Mile. They will do the job. However, if you really don't want to fork out, find some slim weight plates (not much more than 5cm thick). Put them down in the squat rack, to meet your desired squat stance. From there, you'll have to unrack and carefully (CAREFULLY!!!) step back onto the weight plates, allowing only the heel on them. This will act as an Olympic lifting shoe.
Boom. Happy squatting.
Thanks for reading!
BennyFit Strength and Power